Virgin Media trials 8.5Gbps broadband in the UK

Virgin is using Arris DOCSIS and EPON technology across its existing fibre broadband network to bring speeds of around 8.5Gbps to 50 trial customers in Cambridgeshire.

Virgin Media has announced that it is trialling "multi-gigabit" fibre broadband technology which it wants to push to speeds of 10Gbps.

Arris is providing its Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) technology for the trial, which is taking place across 50 residences in Cambridgeshire and is seeing users experience speeds of 8.5Gbps over its existing fibre network.

The EPON technology was installed into Virgin's cable modem termination system (CMTS) inside the provider's Hubsite, Virgin Media explained.

"We've delivered these projects within 12 weeks with existing infrastructure," Arris account director Graham Bolton added.

"The way we've achieved this is by adding an extra EPON fibre model to the Arris E6000 CMTS. The speed is so fast, new standards have had to be developed to validate it."

By provisioning DOCSIS over an Ethernet passive optical network, Virgin Media and Arris said they could use the existing radio-frequency-over-glass equipment and overlay the new capabilities.

Read also: UK government wants 'full fibre' for everyone by 2033

Arris also supplied the network design concept, project plan, and its support team for the trial.

"The fibres run from the Hubsite to on-street cabinets ... we haven't changed anything inside of there, it's our existing fibre-to-the-premises technology that runs directly from this cabinet to our customers' homes," Virgin Media head of Broadband and Value Added Services Ben Thomas said.

Configured routers inside the 50 trial homes then take the EPON signal and convert it into a usable internet connection, according to Virgin Media.

The company has also partnered with SamKnows to track speeds that customers are actually experiencing.

However, Virgin does not plan to deploy the capability "in the near future".

"But great innovation trials like this allows us to test the capabilities of our network, try new equipment, and create a faster future for our customers," Thomas said.

He added that Virgin Media would have more speed announcements coming soon.

In March last year, the UK's Spring Budget included £95 million to help implement gigabit-speed "full fibre" broadband in 13 local areas, with Cambridgeshire part of the first wave.

Also included were London, Manchester, Portsmouth, Belfast, Blackpool, Wolverhampton, Cardiff, Coventry, North Yorkshire, Armagh City, the Highlands, and Mid-Sussex.

Related Coverage

5G Research Report 2019: The enterprise is eager to adopt, despite cost concerns and availability

5G: The next-generation wireless network is finally a reality, and businesses remain eager to embrace this new technology.

5G, smart cities, and other top tech trends for 2019 (TechRepublic)

Quantitative futurist Amy Webb shares her predictions for 2019 tech trends.

5G's important role in autonomous car technology (TechRepublic)

At CES 2019, Qualcomm's Sanjeev Athalye discussed how 5G will be critical for emerging technologies and fields such as driverless vehicles and telemedicine.

5G initial use cases are going to be all about business

Yes, wireless carriers are talking up the consumer 5G dream, but the reality is that the real use cases are going to be all about the enterprise out of the gate.

5G: A transformation in progress

Early 5G deployments are now under way, and general awareness of 5G is increasing. However, fully operational 5G networks that can support advanced business-transforming use cases are still under development.