As web users' thirst for bandwidth soars, cable broadband purveyor Virgin Media is looking to squeeze four times the capacity out of its optical network, but without the expense of ripping out and upgrading its fibre.
The trend for online video content and popular bandwidth-heavy applications, such as the BBC's iPlayer, has led to concerns among ISPs that their infrastructure will soon be creaking under the strain.
But now Virgin Media — which, with its 20Mbps service, already offers the fastest broadband speeds in the UK and has a 50Mbps rollout planned for this year — has completed a trial of bandwidth-boosting kit which increased capacity on its long-haul 10G network fourfold.
Networking giant Nortel's 40/100G Adaptive Optics Engine was tested on a 217-mile length of Virgin's optical network between London and Manchester, and successfully carried 40G traffic, according to the two companies.
Following the trial — the first of its kind in the UK, according to Nortel — Virgin is now looking to deploy the optimising kit, which would position it as the first UK operator to offer 40G wavelength services between UK locations, the companies said.
Daniel Hennessy, director of technical architecture at Virgin Media, said in a statement: "Our aim for this trial was to ensure we continue to meet the growing capacity needs of the high-speed services we deliver and provide a quality experience for Virgin Media customers."
"Our strategic suppliers have demonstrated very clearly how existing network assets can be scaled to meet the growth in demand associated with evolving customer behaviour and step changes in the products provided as part of our high-speed broadband proposition," Hennessy added.