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Virgin Media To Launch 120Mbps Broadband

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Government welcomes move to double users’ broadband speeds in £110 investment

Virgin Media has announced that it will be doubling its broadband speeds for four million of its customers and increasing its top speed to 120Mbps.

The company says that it will begin rolling out the service from next month and has claimed that it will help the government reach its target of having the best broadband service in Europe by 2015.

Lightspeed

Subscribers to Virgin’s 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 30Mbps and 50Mbps will see their speeds at least doubled, while its 100Mbps customers will receive the new top speed of 120Mbps. The project will cost around £110 million and is due to be completed by mid-2013.

Virgin claims that those receiving the new top speed would be able to download an entire music album in just 4.4 seconds, while it would be able to cope with the ever-increasing number of internet connected devices.

“The internet has become an integral part of our social, work and family lives, so we think our customers are going to love this,” commented Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media. “As people are increasingly doing more online, and getting connected to the internet with lots of different devices, having a fast, reliable broadband service should not be a luxury. We want to make sure that consumers have access to the best value broadband service and that means a superfast connection.”

One third of the UK population currently has access to Virgin Media’s 100Mbps service and it has committed to offering it to at least one half of the UK by the middle of 2012. New customers are demanded increasingly higher speeds, with 54 percent wanting 30Mbps or faster. Virgin Media has even tests speeds of up to 1.5Gbps at Silicon roundabout in London.

Government Approval

The government also welcomed the announcement.

“It will provide a great boost for the economy and change the way many households, consumers and businesses use the internet,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. “Rolling out superfast broadband across the country is a critical part of our plan to upgrade the UK’s infrastructure and build a new and smarter economy.”

“Faster broadband speeds are great for customers and great for business, which is why our policy is to deliver superfast broadband to 90 percent of the country by 2015,” added Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport. “Virgin Media’s plans to double broadband speeds are really exciting and we applaud their ambition.”

In November 2011, the government announced plans for a multi-year programme worth a total of £30 billion to improve the UK’s infrastructure, including broadband. The government has already invested £530 million into the national rollout of fibre broadband, much of it earmarked for rural areas, but this figure has been dwarfed by the £2.5 billion investment made by BT.

However BT has warned that it may take up to six years, while Jeremy Hunt has lamented the slow rollout of superfast broadband.