Virgin Media: '100Mbps broadband coming this year'

Plus 200Mbps trial heading for Coventry...

Plus 200Mbps trial heading for Coventry...

Cable broadband purveyor Virgin Media is upping the speed stakes in its battle with BT by announcing it will roll out a 100Mbps broadband service by the end of this year.

Virgin Media's current top speed broadband service is 50Mbps but earlier this year rival broadband purveyor BT upped its own game by kicking off a fibre broadband service.

BT announced it would be taking the fibre plunge last year - pledging to invest £1.5bn to make fibre-based broadband available to 10 million UK premises by 2012.

However, the vast majority of these premises will only get fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) - which enables up to 40Mbps broadband, as it still relies on copper lines for the last mile. By contrast fibre to the home (FTTH) offers up to 100Mbps. A BT spokeswoman said a quarter of its planned fibre rollout - 2.5 million premises - will get FTTH but the lion's share - 7.5 million premises - will get FTTC.

Virgin Media's 100Mbps rollout will begin at the end of this year, according to a spokeswoman - and continue throughout 2011. The company's cable broadband network can be accessed by 12.6 million homes in the UK and the spokeswoman confirmed the 100Mbps service would be available to all premises covered by its network.

"We have identified several locations for the rollout to begin," said the spokeswoman who added that the specific locations have not yet been made public. "They're regions across the UK."

The company said the service will allow users to download a music album in as little as five seconds, an hour-long TV show in 31 seconds and a HD movie in seven minutes and 25 seconds. Pricing for the 100Mbps service has not yet been announced.

Virgin Media is also expanding a trial of 200Mbps broadband, which it kicked off in May last year in Ashford, Kent.

Hundreds of customers in Coventry will "shortly" get the chance to kick the tyres of 200Mbps broadband, according to the spokeswoman - to help the company learn more about the applications and consumer experience enabled by such speeds.

In related news, the first service providers to deliver next generation services to homes in Bournemouth via the FTTH network being built by Fibrecity Holdings have been announced.

Fibreband, Velocity 1 and Vispa will be offering telephone, TV and superfast broadband services costing from £9.99 per month. The broadband speeds range from 25Mbps to 100Mbps with some packages offering the ability to boost speeds to 1Gbps.

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