As of February Virgin Media will be doubling the speed of their broadband service, a development which will benefit over 4 million Virgin customers. The upgrade means that Virgin Media’s maximum broadband speed looks to increase to 120Mbps from 100Mbps at an overall cost to the company of £110 million and looks set to be complete by the middle of 2013.
Even Prime Minister David Cameron commented on the proposal, stating that it would be a great boost for the UK in terms of the economy as well as how businesses, consumers and households use the internet. The government has targets in place to build on and improve broadband speeds over the next 3 years in order to further develop the infrastructure in the UK as well as enhance a new and ‘smarter’ economy.
So what does this mean for Virgin Customers? Those customers who currently receive 10Mbps will now receive 20MBps, similarly customers who receive 20 or 30Mbps, will now be boosted to 60Mbps. Those currently on a 50Mbps service will be upped to 100Mbps and those receiving the top tariff of 100Mbps will be increased to the new maximum 120Mbps. Virgin Media have added that they will also double usage limits – customers will get this upgrade at no extra charge and those customers who have older modems will be sent new equipment, also at no cost. The question which still remains is how Virgin TV will tackle rural areas, as at present Virgin tend to cover urban areas only.
As for competitor BT, they had suggested that they were going to invest approx £2.5 billion in order to make fibre optic broadband available to around two thirds of homes in the UK by the end of 2015. Since promising this, BT has actually further invested £300 million in order to bring that goal forward, making it the end of 2014. They have promised major improvements to many homes, adding that broadband as quick as 300Mbps will be available to a certain amount of ‘superfast’ locations. With regards to Virgin’s plans, BT noted that they are by no means surprised that Virgin are ‘following their lead’ in the hope to double broadband speeds.
The UK only ranks number 35 globally when it comes to broadband download speed – 11.65Mbps on average. Virgin Media stated that when this new development has been completed they expect this average to increase to approx 16.46Mbps. If this turns out to be true then the UK will be ranked 19th in the world.