Virgin Media presses ahead with £3bn network expansion and urges other cities to “cut red tape” around cable deployment
Up to 80,000 homes and businesses in and around Leeds are set to be connected to Virgin Media’s cable network in the latest stage of the company’s £3 billion Project Lightning expansion programme.
Premises in the ‘LS’ postcode, which covers Leeds city centre, suburbs and surrounding areas, are being invited to submit their interest to Virgin, which will prioritise rollout where demand is highest.
Eleven thousand homes in Middleton will be connected in the first stage of the £40 million expansion, which will eventually see 80 percent of properties in Leeds connected to Virgin Media’s network. Virgin already has 700 business customers in the Yorkshire city.
Virgin Media expansion
“I am delighted that we have secured this investment for the residents of Leeds,” said Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake. “Access to high speed broadband is the cornerstone of a thriving local economy helping residents connect and businesses to grow.”
‘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.
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.
Manchester was the first city earmarked for expansion and Virgin Media has urged other local authorities to relax red tape if they want to benefit from similar projects.
“Local authorities have an important role in getting ultrafast broadband to more people, more quickly,” said CEO Tom Mockridge. “Virgin Media is investing £3bn to improve the UK’s digital infrastructure. We need more local authorities, like Leeds City Council, to work with us to cut the red tape and secure investment for their residents.”