Virgin Media to trial 1.5Gbps cable in London

Summary:The ISP has announced plans to trial hybrid fibre-coaxial connections that are 240 times faster than the average home broadband speed in the UK

Virgin Media plans to start trialling broadband cable connections of up to 1.5Gbps with four businesses in the area of east London known as Silicon Roundabout.

Virgin Media broadband

Virgin Media plans to trial 1.5Gbps with four businesses in east London. Photo credit: Richard Rogerson

The 1.5Gbps trial, scheduled to begin in April, will use Virgin Media's existing fibre and cable infrastructure in the location, which is near Old Street. It promises to deliver download speeds that measure 15 times the fastest residential cable connections currently available in the UK and 240 times the average broadband speed.

"Consumers accessing speeds of 1Gbps or more will be able to access even more interactive entertainment and services such as remote healthcare and online education, without the need to travel," the ISP said in a statement on Wednesday. "As the pace of technological change increases, they will also be in the best position to enjoy web services yet to be invented."

The system uses Docsis 3 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) technology, which supports IPv6 and allows "theoretically near infinite capacity" by bonding multiple downstream and upstream channels, Virgin Media said.

Broadband connections

In their most recent fast-broadband deployments, both BT and Virgin Media use fibre to connect street cabinets to the internet. However, BT then uses either fibre or twisted-pair copper to connect the cabinet to the home; Virgin Media uses coaxial cable, which is also based on copper, to make that connection. The speed improvements that are regularly announced by the two companies represent the race to eke better speeds out of the competing fibre and coaxial technologies.

Virgin is currently in the process of making 100Mbps broadband available to two million residential premises, and is on track for completion by mid-2012. The company has no public timescale for a full rollout of a 1.5Gbps option.

"Consumer broadband is driven by customer demand, and we're currently in the process of rolling out our 100Mbps package," a spokeswoman for the company told ZDNet UK. "This trial is about really testing our network and making sure it is future-proofed at this stage."

The ISP is already in line to resell services that run on Fujitsu's planned 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network. In December, BT announced that it was planning to trial 1Gbps connections.

Also on Wednesday, Virgin Media announced that its overall revenue for the first quarter — ending 31 March — was up 5.7 percent to £982m, as a result of a strong growth in mobile subscriptions and gains in its business data division.

The company reported minor cable subscriber increases of 1.2 percent in a year-on-year comparison. It also noted that 39 percent of new broadband subscribers during the quarter opted for packages of 20Mbps or higher.


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Topics: Broadband, Networking

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