Virgin Media announces largest UK fibre broadband rollout

27th April 2016

The Chancellor meeting Virgin Media’s apprentices, involved in the £3bn ‘Project Lightning’ ultrafast network expansion

Virgin Media today pledged to accelerate the UK’s rollout of fibre optic broadband direct to homes and businesses.

The ultrafast broadband provider will connect fibre to the premise (FTTP) to at least a quarter of the 4 million additional homes and businesses being added to the Virgin Media network, as part of its ‘Project Lightning’ expansion plans.

Backed by parent company Liberty Global, Virgin Media will connect a total of 17 million premises to the network by 2019. This is the single largest investment in the UK’s broadband infrastructure in more than a decade.

Ofcom recently reported that the UK has the lowest proportion of fibre connections running directly to homes and businesses (known as FTTP) of any OECD nation.  The plans unveiled by Virgin Media today are a significant boost to the UK’s ambitions to become a ‘fibre nation’.  As a result, Virgin Media becomes the UK’s largest wholly fibre broadband network in the UK.

Today’s announcement marks the latest stage in a transformation of Virgin Media. The Company is already extending its ‘always faster’ network to more areas of the UK, as an alternative to the ageing copper telephony-based network offered by incumbent BT.  

Superior network

Virgin Media’s UK network offers the fastest widely-available speeds of up to 200Mbps for consumers and 300Mbps for businesses.

Virgin Media has a Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network in the UK which combines optical fibre and coaxial cable. The core network is fibre optic which provides ultrafast broadband to the street cabinet. Broadband is then delivered to the majority of premises using the Company’s superior coaxial cable powered by DOCSIS3 technology.

Giving a significant boost to the UK’s digital economy, Virgin Media is today committing to providing FTTP to at least one in four properties in its Project Lightning expansion.

Fibre rollout

Virgin Media has already started to roll out fibre to the premise (FTTP) in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire with work expected to start soon in West Yorkshire, Devon and East Sussex.

Using new engineering techniques such a ‘narrow trenching’, FTTP can be deployed at lower cost and more quickly in areas where demand is high.

Boosting the economy and creating jobs

Project Lightning will deliver a significant boost to the UK. Estimates by economic consultancy Oxera state that Project Lightning will benefit the UK economy by an estimated £8 billion. Virgin Media expects that Project Lightning will be directly responsible for creating 6,000 new jobs, including 1,000 new apprentices.

Since Project Lightning launched in February 2015 Virgin Media has connected 250,000 new premises, and has created 2,100 jobs in the UK. During 2016 Virgin Media expects to connect 500,000 new premises, creating a further 500 jobs in the UK.

Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, said: “Our £3bn investment to bring ultrafast connectivity to more parts of the UK is not just about better broadband, it’s about future-proofing the country’s network infrastructure with the best and most modern technology.

“While some companies talk a good game, Virgin Media is putting its money where its mouth is and laying fibre to the premise alongside our superior HFC network - delivering the  fastest widely available broadband speeds.

“In just over one year we’ve laid enough new cable to stretch all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats, reaching a quarter of a million more homes and businesses – and there’s much more to come.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said: “Backing firms that grow and create jobs is a key part of our plan to boost productivity and deliver economic security for working people.

“It's fantastic to be at Virgin Media today to hear about their plans to create 500 new hig‎hly skilled jobs this year, and expand their ultrafast Internet service to 4 million new homes and businesses."

About Virgin Media

About Virgin Media

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. We’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises by the end of 2019.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business, we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company, with operations in more than 30 countries.