The Gigabit Britain scheme will begin in Southampton, with over a million customers being upgraded to gigabit services by the end of the year

Virgin Media is set to become the UK’s biggest provider of gigabit broadband services, as it rolls out 15 million hyperfast connections across its networks by 2021.

Phase one of the Gigabit Britain plan will see a million additional gigabit connections by the end of 2019.

“This is a giant digital leap forward for the UK. Virgin Media has been the unparalleled speed leader for many years. Very soon, for the first time ever, millions of people right across the country will be able to experience hyperfast and reliable gigabit internet connections thanks to the latest technology and the power of our network," said Lutz Schüler, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media.

“This upgrade plan will see gigabit speeds rolled out at an unrivalled pace right across the country, bringing our customers the future-proof connections of tomorrow.”

The move has been greeted enthusiastically by the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, who hailed the move as a crucial step in safeguarding the country’s digital future.

“We welcome Virgin Media’s commitment to investing further in its network, providing gigabit speeds to millions more households. This shows the race to roll out ultrafast speeds to people and businesses across the UK is really gathering pace,” said Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive.

"Virgin Media has the largest gigabit-capable network in the UK which currently passes nearly 15 million UK premises. The network consists of both fibre-rich cable and fibre connected directly to the premises, both of which can provide customers with gigabit speeds.

"In February, as further proof of its network innovation and broadband speed leadership, Virgin Media began trialling the UK’s fastest home broadband with a full fibre connection offering speeds of more than 8Gbps to homes in Cambridgeshire. The trial made use of EPON (Ethernet Passive Optical Network) technology – a global point-to-point network standard.

The Gigabit Britain project will deliver hyperfast broadband services using Virgin Media’s existing cable network using DOCSIS 3.1 technology. While the network upgrade will certainly provide a huge boost to customers download speeds, it should be noted that DOCSYS technology does not offer symmetrical down/upload speeds, therefore customers are unlikely to see upload speeds that are anywhere near their gigabit download speeds.  

Virgin Meida’s parent company, Liberty Global, has already launched gigabit services in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands, built on similar DOCSIS 3.1 technology.


Also in the news

Full fibre for all by 2025? Time to gett your finger out, Boris

Openreach slashes wholesale access rates 

‘Bizarre’ fibre tax must be scrapped