Virgin hikes broadband speed for customers

The company will give some of its customers a free upgrade from 4Mbps to 10Mbps, as it also prepares for a 50Mbps rollout

Virgin Media has announced a free speed upgrade to 10Mbps for some of its broadband customers.

The company, which delivers residential broadband services via its cable network, said customers on its "L" tier package will get a free speed hike taking them from 4Mbps to 10Mbps.

Virgin described this as "a significant speed advantage" over regular 8Mbps ADSL connections and said the free upgrade will roll out by region from late next month and be completed by late summer.

Even faster speeds are also on the cards for cable customers too — Virgin is touting a forthcoming 50Mbps rollout, which it said will be available to more than nine million homes in the UK by the end of the year, following successful trials in Ashford, Dover and Folkestone.

The current top speed on offer to Virgin customers is 20Mbps. BT's forthcoming ADSL2+ technology will offer speeds of up to 24Mbps, although the telco is also dabbling with fibre. A planned BT fibre deployment in Ebbsfleet, Kent, will offer speed of up to 100Mbps on a mixed development including 10,000 homes.

Mass fibre rollouts, however, look unlikely in the near future as BT has stated its desire to get the most out of its copper infrastructure.

Another option for speeding up broadband in Britain has reared its head of late. H2O Networks has launched a project to furnish several UK cities with fibre networks by laying fibre in existing sewer ducts. This is cheaper option than digging up streets.