Virgin Media

Virgin Media O2 switches on XGS-PON network through Nexfibre

Leading UK operator takes leap forward with full-fibre optical network promising upload and downloads of up to 10 Gbps to cover five million homes by 2026

After initiating trials of the advanced optical networking technology on its live full-fibre infrastructure towards the end of 2022, UK communications firm Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) is now starting to sell services powered by XGS-PON through the Nexfibre next-generation fibre joint venture it’s a part of.

Explaining the reasons for lighting up XGS-PON, VMO2 said it was simply reacting to what it described as a huge increase in customers’ demand for data.

It stressed that with customers using more and more data each year – and with so many breakthroughs happening in the technology space currently happening – from the metaverse and generative artificial intelligence (AI) to mixed reality applications and immersive gaming – total data use on its network increased by more than 10% in 2022, and demand was only going in one direction.

The current VMO2 infrastructure supports download speeds of 1.1 Gbps, but XGS-PON and fibre connections will provide customers with symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 10 Gbps, supporting future technologies and applications.

XGS-PON will initially underpin VMO2 broadband services using Nexfibre’s new full-fibre network, which is projected to cover five million homes by 2026 with the option of reaching a total of seven million homes beyond that.

Nexfibre is the result of a £4.5bn investment from VMO2 shareholders, Liberty Global and Telefónica, alongside investment firm InfraVia Capital Partners, and its launch is designed to see Virgin Media O2’s fibre footprint reach 80% of the UK when coupled with its own fibre upgrade plans, which complete in 2028. VMO2 is acting as a build supplier and wholesale customer of the new network.

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Explaining why the company was making the move, VMO2 chief technology officer Jeanie York said that to keep offering customers the reliable and seamless services they expect long into future, it was ensuring it was ready to deal with whatever comes next.

“Work to evolve our network never stops, and everyday households across the country gain access to our award-winning and fully gigabit broadband,” she said. “With network innovation and investment unlocking faster and ever-more reliable services for customers, we’re entering a golden era for fixed connectivity and planning for the decades ahead. Today is a key moment in that journey.

“Consumers and businesses won’t be the only winners as we roll out this technology more widely: the planet is set to benefit, too,” said York. “XGS-PON uses a passive optical network so energy consumption will be lower in future. This will help us deliver our ambitious net-zero goals that support better outcomes for customers, communities and the planet.”

Nexfibre CEO Bernardo Quinn added: “Nexfibre’s advanced full-fibre network is now live, and will deliver hyper-fast broadband to millions of homes and businesses across the country. We are on a mission to build and operate our network in previously underserved areas, closing the digital divide and giving more people access to high-quality broadband.”

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