12th January 2016
The contrast is stark. One side of the road is dotted with wooden telegraph poles, splitting and greening with age, threaded with BT’s copper cables.
On the other side is a brand new Virgin Media cabinet, no more than 5ft in height, serving thousands of premises with the very latest ultrafast fibre optic broadband.
Welcome to Blaby Road, Enderby, a small village on the edge of Leicester and the frontline of Virgin Media’s £3bn Project Lightning network expansion.
Enderby is one of six Leicestershire villages where we are expanding our network. Work is underway right now to connect 16,000 premises in this area to Virgin Media’s ultrafast network delivering speeds of 200Mbps.
The cabinet on the busy Blaby Road is just one part of the expansion story.
A five-minute drive into the village centre sees the cable being laid in the street using ‘narrow trenching’. This technique allows us to lay 75m of cable a day, compared to conventional methods that achieve only 45m. And the trench is only 100mm wide, which means that digging creates less spoil and causes minimal disruption to roads and pavements.
The works are impressive. In pouring rain workmen neatly cut the trench using a machine not much bigger than a lawnmower. They then remove a slice of tarmac with a digger, excavate the trench and carefully lay the cable before backfilling. New Tarmac is laid later in the day.
Around the corner in Jacob Close fibre being installed to a customer’s home. Using an air compressor, fibre is blown form the property through an underground duct into a street cabinet and then connected. Within a few minutes the customer is online and able to enjoy Virgin Media’s ultrafast broadband and TV services.
Project Lightning is offering people like the residents of these Leicestershire villages a real choice. Do they take their services delivered using a 100-year old technology or do they use Virgin Media’s services, using the fastest and very latest technology?
The progress in Enderby points to the answer.
(Photo: Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media CEO, lays cable in Enderby)