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Virgin Media innovation trials deliver 2.2Gbps broadband speeds

Latest stage in cableco’s trials of multi-gigabit broadband speeds in Southampton and Manchester deliver speeds around 40 times faster than the local average connection

Virgin Media has taken the next steps in its trials of services that can deliver broadband speeds of up to 2.2Gbps.

The cableco claims to be the UK’s largest gigabit broadband provider with speeds of 1,130Mbps available to 7.1 million homes and now says it has demonstrated the power and capability of its fibre-rich network by successfully delivering next-generation 2.2Gbps broadband speeds to homes in Southampton and Manchester in real-world trials.

The network speeds were verified using tools from SamKnows – a technical partner of UK regulator Ofcom – which measures broadband performance.

Virgin first began a proof-of-concept trial of 2.2Gbps in September 2020, aiming to showcase what it said were the “blisteringly fast” broadband speeds that can be delivered via its existing network, without the need for additional infrastructure or civil engineering works, such as laying new fibre cables.

Multi-gigabit broadband test services were delivered to homes in the Thatcham area of Berkshire via Virgin Media’s existing 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 its network will have access to gigabit speeds without the need for additional infrastructure or civil engineering works.

The trials are the next step in the operator’s network roll-out after it launched its Gig1 gigabit broadband service in late 2019 offering average download speeds of 1,130Mbps. In the latest part of the trial, Virgin Media engineers were able to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to homes in Southampton and Manchester using the operator’s latest router, the Hub 4.

The router is Virgin Media’s fastest to date and comes as standard with the Gig1 service. According to Ofcom’s Connected nations report 2020, published on 17 December 2020, Manchester’s local average broadband speed is 54Mbps and Southampton’s average is 57.6Mbps.

Virgin believes that in the future, multi-gigabit speeds will allow households to instantly and simultaneously stream box sets and video games with 8K and upward capabilities, as well as use artificial and virtual reality technology in real time and take part in video calling, now common practice in the remote working community, all without any delay.

“We invest more than £1bn into our network every year to deliver leading connectivity today, but our talented teams never stop pushing forward to ensure we are ready to power our customers’ connectivity needs for whatever comes next,” said Jeanie York, Virgin Media’s chief technology and information officer.

“Our services are being relied on and used more than ever before, and these innovative trials in Manchester and Southampton demonstrate how Virgin Media’s existing network is fit for the future with hyper-fast, multi-gigabit broadband speeds delivered straight to customers’ homes.”

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