Virgin Media Trials 8Gbps Broadband In Rural Village

Virgin Media is touting a trial of “hyperfast multi-gigabit home broadband” in a sleepy village in the Cambridgeshire countryside.

The trail reportedly only involves eight homes in Papworth at the moment (it may be extended to 50 households). Broadband testing website SamKnows has verified these homes were able to achieve download speeds of more than 8Gbps.

Virgin Media used the village Papworth back in 2014 to trial a new method of installing fibre lines. The so called ‘narrow trenching’ contracted the width of the trench used to lay the cable from around 40cm to 10cm, making it a third cheaper to deploy and allowed engineers to double the amount of ground they can cover in a day to 100 metres.

8Gbps trial

Using that technique, Virgin Media was able to wire up one hundred home in the village of Papworth so they could receive speeds of 1Gbps.

But now Virgin Media has gone one stage after it dramatically increased the line speed that utilised its existing fibre network to provide download speeds more than 200 times faster the UK average via a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection.

And what is more, the lucky households benefited from “symmetrical connectivity,”, which meant their connection could support simultaneous upload and download speeds of more than 8Gbps.

According to Virgin Media, the trial saw data transferred along fibre optic cables using EPON (Ethernet Passive Optical Network) technology, which is typically used to deliver up to 1Gbps speeds to UK homes.

However Virgin Media partnered with ARRIS to trial new equipment and software to increase the speeds that its residential fibre network is capable of delivering.

“As the UK’s fastest widely available broadband provider, we’re committed to making Britain faster and this trial pushes the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Richard Sinclair, executive director of connectivity at Virgin Media.

“With the volume of our customers’ internet usage almost doubling every year, trials like this will ensure we have the capability to meet the demand of data-hungry services in the future – be that over cable or full fibre,” said Sinclair.

Need for speed

SamKnows built a new speed testing tool, specifically designed to test multi-gigabit connections.

“We measure broadband speeds around the world and this trial has been delivering speeds far in excess of what we typically see in customers’ homes,” said Sam Crawford, Founder and CTO at SamKnows. “By using SamKnows certified measurements, Virgin Media was able to inexpensively troubleshoot issues quickly to consistently deliver innovative multi-gigabit speeds to real customers.”

So what can a 8Gbps connection deliver?

Well, ultra-high definition 4K films can be downloaded and uploaded almost instantaneously, even with multiple devices using the connection simultaneously.

For example, a high definition (HD) film (typically 5GB) can be downloaded in just 5 seconds. An Ultra High Definition 4K film (typically 20GB) can be downloaded in just 20 seconds.

Virgin Media announced in 2017 that its network has expanded its reach to 14.7 million homes and businesses across the UK and Ireland.

What do you know about Virgin Media?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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