Virgin Trumpets 1.5Gb Fibre Trial Success

Silicon Roundabout has 1.5Gbps broadband, thanks to a Virgin Media Business trial

A trial of 1.5Gbps fibre broadband at East London London’s “Silicon Roundabout” has been pronounced a success by Virgin Media business, at an event attended by communications minister Ed Vaizey.

The high-profile trial has provided 1.5Gbps download and 150Mbps upload speeds to businesses in the Old Street area, where the entrepreneur hothouse TechHub is located. Prime Minister David Cameron has previously spoken of transforming the area into London’s equivalent to Silicon Valley.

Getting more out of fibre

The trial uses the same fibre infrastructure that Virgin Media uses for residential customers, and – through the Big Red Internet brand – to business customers.

Its consumer arm is rolling out superfast broadband in competition with BT, and its coverage now reaches 6.5 million homes – a quarter of UK households. However, this month, it was rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for  exaggerating the benefits of its fibre network.

Virgin says the 1.5Gbps trial is 240 times faster than the average broadband user’s connection, which Ofcom puts at 6Mbps.

“It is fantastic to see the fastest Internet speeds in the world over cable being trialled here in the UK,” said communications Minister Ed Vaizey, at the event: “This exciting development will help attract new companies and entrepreneurs to the area, bringing new jobs and growth to this part of the capital.”

Virgin Media has invested billions in its fibre network based on the DOCSIS standards, which connects users by coaxial cable and offers faster speeds than broadband over the telephone network. The DOCSIS2 standards allow multiple channels to be bonded creating faster networks, and support the new Internet protocol IPv6.

The fibre network is not so useful in rural areas, and here Virgin is backing the effort by Fujitsu Networks to build a rival 1Gbps fibre network.

“Superfast broadband is critical to continued innovation across the UK, and Virgin Media’s 1.5Gb trial is a great opportunity to explore the future potential,” said Elizabeth Varley, co-founder and CEO at TechHub.