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Virgin Media beats 100Mbps schedule, hikes prices

Virgin Media's fastest 100Mbps broadband package is now available to over 10 million homes, beating its mid-2012 estimate for the rollout. However, the company will introduce cable price rises in April
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

More than 10 million homes can now access Virgin Media's 100Mbps hybrid co-axial-fibre service, the company has said, but it will be followed by price rises in the next few months.

Virgin Media had planned to surpass the 10 million homes mark for its 100Mbps service by mid-2012, but has beaten its own rollout schedule, the company said.

"Reaching today’s milestone puts us ahead of schedule as we help propel the UK up the global broadband rankings. Broadband is coming of age as more people give up on slow DSL in favour of superfast fibre-optic speeds," Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said on Monday.

Virgin Media's 100Mbps service is one of the fastest connections widely available to UK consumers. It competes with BT's fibre-based Infinity packages, which also offer speeds of up to 100Mbps using fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology.

On Thursday, Ofcom released figures from its most recent UK fixed-line broadband speed report showing that the average broadband speed had increased by 22 percent — up to 7.6Mbps from 6.2Mbps — in an annual comparison.

In January, Virgin Media said it would be increasing the headline speeds of its broadband packages, "at least" doubling the download speed of its 10, 20, 30 and 50Mbps packages, and increasing its 100Mbps package to 120Mbps.

In turn, BT is also planning to "roughly double" the speed of its 40Mbps infinity service during 2012 and on Friday announced that it will be providing a new option to business and residential customers, called 'FTTP on demand', which will offer speeds of up to 300Mbps. BT did not say how much the service would cost per month, or reveal the connection fee.

Virgin Media also said it would be increasing the upload and download speeds for users on all of its cable-based broadband packages, for no increase in monthly pricing. However, the company said on Thursday that it would be increasing the cost of some its call and broadband packages, raising the cost for its average customer by more than £2.50 per month.

"As part of our ongoing review of services, we're making some changes to our cable pricing from April. On average, customers will see an increase of around £2.68 per month," a spokesman said in a statement. Following the increase, customers on the 'Large' package without a phone line will see a price increase of £1.50 per month, for example.

A number of other ISPs have announced price changes — including BT, which said in December that it would be increasing the cost of its phone line rental by 70 pence per month. BT will also increase some broadband package prices — upping Infinity Option 2 by £1.20 per month, for example.

There will be no further increases in the prices of BT's line rental, UK landline calls or 'Unlimited Anytime' phone package until 2013, the company said.

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