Virgin hits 2.2Gbps broadband speeds in innovation trial

UK cable network reveals proof-of-concept trial to showcase multi-gigabit broadband speeds delivered without the need for additional infrastructure or civil engineering works

Recent outages in key areas, particularly South London, may have left users fuming about lack of service, but Virgin Media believes that it has taken a next step in service by demonstrating “the power and capability” of its fibre-rich network by successfully delivering next-generation 2.2Gbps broadband speeds.

The UK cable provider has carried out a proof-of-concept trial to showcase what it said are the “blisteringly fast” broadband speeds which can be delivered via its existing network, without the need for additional infrastructure or civil engineering works, such as laying new fibre cables.

Delivered to homes in the Thatcham area of the county of Berkshire through a real-world trial, the new multi-gigabit broadband link is said to be 34 times faster than the UK’s average broadband speeds, and the signal was delivered via Virgin Media’s existing, future-proof cable network using DOCSIS 3.1-based broadband technology.

Virgin Media’s aim is that by the end of 2021, more than 15 million premises across network will have access to gigabit speeds. The proof of concept comes just as Virgin Media has been in the middle of a scheme to rolling out its Gig1 broadband speeds (1,140Mbps) to seven areas across the UK – a total of 3.7 million homes – which it says makes it the UK’s largest gigabit broadband provider.

Virgin Media’s team of engineers were able to deliver the multi-gigabit speeds to homes in Thatcham using the operator’s latest router, the Hub 4. The router is Virgin Media’s fastest to date and comes as standard with its gigabit broadband service, Gig1. The trial also provided average upload speeds of 214Mbps. The hyper-fast speeds were independently verified by SamKnows – technical partner of UK regulator Ofcom – which measures broadband performance.

Commenting on the experience delivered by the set up, Thatcham resident David Bassom said: “On my previous connection with another provider, it would take longer to download software than it would to install it. With Virgin Media’s multi-gigabit trial, it took seconds. In my job I work on peer-to-peer networks and have to remotely connect to other people’s computers, and with these broadband speeds it was seamless – it was as if their PC was in front of me.”

Another trialist, Phil Thompson, added: “The multi-gigabit speeds were a step forward and it was a big help in bringing the office into the home space. I have to do a lot of work video calls and with the 2.2Gbps speeds they were in near real-time, whereas my colleagues were lagging behind on their connection. When my son – who is a big gamer – came to visit, he said that the speeds were ‘ridiculous’ as there was low ping and jitter – which meant he had a great gaming experience.”

Looking at future use cases for the technical capability, Virgin Media said that, in the future, multi-gigabit speeds will allow households to instantly and simultaneously stream boxsets and video games with 8K and upwards capabilities, as well as use AR and VR technology in real-time and take part without any delay in video calling – increasingly a home-based activity using the likes of Zoom as masses of people are obliged to work and learn from home.

Virgin Media believed that the trial demonstrate how existing future-proof cable network can deliver lightning-fast, multi-gigabit broadband speeds.

“We stand ready to power our customers’ connectivity needs for whatever comes next,” said Virgin Media’s chief technology and information officer Jeanie York.

“We’re leading the charge to make the UK faster and we’re on track for rolling out gigabit broadband speeds across our network by the end of next year. With this next-generation connectivity, our customers can experience the best from their broadband – whether that’s 8K gaming, instant streaming, high-quality video calls or uploading files in a flash – all in the same home at the same time.”

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