Virgin Media’s £3 billion ‘Project Lightning’ will add 150,000 homes and businesses to its cable network
Up to 150,000 homes and businesses in Manchester will be the first to benefit from Virgin Media’s £3 billion network expansion, which will eventually add an additional four million properties to its cable service.
The first tranche of 20,000 premises will be connected this week as part of a £75 million investment in the city, which will see 500 jobs created at Virgin Media and through its construction partners, and coverage extended to 450,000 properties.
‘Project Lightning’ is the single largest network investment ever undertaken by Virgin Media, which was formed in 2007 by the merger of NTL and Telewest, and will see the company expand its footprint to 17 million properties.
Virgin Media Manchester
The Liberty Global owned-firm is targeting areas close to its existing infrastructure and locations where demand is high, meaning cities rather than rural areas will benefit, but Virgin believes the programme will establish itself as a genuine alternative to BT, benefiting consumers with faster speeds and more competition.
The Openreach network primarily uses Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology which uses existing copper wire for the final few hundred metres of the connection, delivering speeds of up to 76Mbps.
Virgin’s network offers up to 152Mbps, although it is worth noting that BT plans to rollout G.Fast across its infrastructure, potentially offering 500Mbps to the majority of the UK within a decade. To combat this, Liberty Global is testing technology that could result in 10Gbps speeds in the future.
Cable my street
“Our message is simple: help us to cable your street,” said CEO Tom Mockridge. “If you want to switch to broadband speeds twice as fast as you can get today, simply register with Virgin Media to ‘cablemystreet’.”
Virgin Media has nearly five million broadband customers, a figure it hopes its expansion can increase. Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey has welcomed the news, claiming it will have a positive impact on Manchester.
“We are in the midst of a remarkable transformation of the UK’s digital landscape, and Virgin Media’s £3bn investment will play an important role in ensuring our cities are fully equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age in which we live,” he declared.