Virgin Media to offer Gigabit broadband to millions of homes across the UK

  • Virgin Media has announced plans to increase its maximum download speed for millions of homes to at least 1Gbps by the end of 2021.

    Home and business internet speeds have been steadily increasing in the past several years to accomodate the increase in high-demand use cases such as HD video streaming. Virgin Media currently offers speeds of over 200Mbps to millions of homes across the UK, but plans are in place to ramp this up to over 1,000Mbps by the end of 2021.

    The UK has actually been lagging far behind many other nations in deployment of a full fibre-optic broadband network, with only 1.5% of households and businesses able to get high-end Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). Internet infrastructure in the UK has instead focused on Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) deployment, where the fibre optic cable leads to a phone network cabinet and the last mile or less of cable to people's houses is traditional copper cable.

    That copper wire will become a bottleneck at some point in the future, with a direct fibre connection capable of terrabit speeds while the copper cabling currently maxes out at atound 300Mbps. Virgin's plan to upgrade this to over 1,000Mbps involves an upgrade to its data transmission standards to the new Docsis 3.1 specification, which theoretically allows download speeds of up to 10Gbps over standard copper coaxial cables.

    It will be some time before the average consumer even needs speeds over 1,000Mbps, but higher bandwidth will become necessary as 4K streaming and 3D video services become more prolific. BT Openreach and other firms are currently involved in deploying next-generation FTTP networks, but the UK has a long way to go to reach the rates of countries such as Spain, Sweden, and Latvia, which have over 40% FTTP adoption.

    Source: BBC News

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