Virgin Media’s expansion trial paves the way for faster network rollout in future

26 March 2021

  • Virgin Media has performed a ‘business first’ in its network expansion programme by using a combination of construction techniques to connect homes and businesses in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire
  • The company has connected 1,600 premises in the area to its ultrafast network by combining three different construction methods, with expansion continuing throughout 2021.
  • This new approach helped reduce disruption and accelerate the works so residents can benefit from broadband speeds 15 times faster than the local average for the first time.

Virgin Media has completed an ambitious expansion of its network in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire, combining a variety of engineering methods for the first time.

In addition to the more commonly used narrow trenching techniques, Virgin Media also installed new cables in existing underground ducts and used Openreach’s overhead telegraph poles to connect the area.

This meant it was able to connect homes and businesses to ultrafast broadband services much faster than would have otherwise been possible. The scheme went from planning to delivery in just four months – far quicker than is normal for a project of this size – and was delivered with disruption and digging minimised for local residents.

This is the first time that Virgin Media has combined these three engineering methods in one location to expand its network. The scheme was made possible by Ofcom’s physical infrastructure access (PIA) remedy which gives internet service companies access to Openreach’s duct and pole infrastructure.

Using existing infrastructure can deliver significant cost savings and Virgin Media is looking to use these techniques where possible for other network expansion projects, paving the way for a more rapid rollout of gigabit services across the UK.

Some Swadlincote homes and business have already benefitted from Virgin Media’s network expansion programme. In 2019, the company decided to take over an abandoned Sky network in the area connecting 4,000 homes to the UK’s fastest widely available network. To ensure premises could be connected as quickly as possible, the firm used Sky’s existing infrastructure to complete the required work.

The company will also continue to expand in the area, with the next phase of work set to begin in April 2021, and Swadlincote residents will soon benefit from Virgin Media’s gigabit broadband rollout which it is bringing to its entire network of 15 million homes by the end of 2021.

The company has continued to expand its network and install new customers during the global Covid-19 pandemic to bring ultrafast connectivity to more homes and businesses across the UK when they need it most.

Virgin Media’s ultrafast broadband speeds are 15 times faster than the local average*. Swadlincote residents will benefit from fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology which allows for smooth, reliable connectivity in the home. With a connection offering speeds of more than 600Mbps, large files, films and games become very quick to stream and download:

  • Download every Bridgerton episode in Ultra HD (56GB) in 12 minutes 43 seconds, compared to three hours 20 minutes on the average local connection;
  • Download Call of Duty Cold War (133GB) on PS5 in just over 30 minutes, compared to over 7 hours and 56 minutes on the average local connection**

Hugh Woolford, Regional Director for the Yorkshire and East Midlands at Virgin Media, said:

“This latest engineering feat in Swadlincote demonstrates how Virgin Media is finding new ways to bring our ultrafast services to even more homes across the UK with minimal disruption.

“Ultrafast and reliable connectivity has never been more important and it’s vital we continue finding new ways roll out our services at pace so even more people can benefit from gigabit connections this year.”

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Notes to Editors

More information about how Virgin Media people are helping the country stay connected can be found HERE. *The average (median) broadband speed in South Derbyshire is 40Mbps. Source: Source: Ofcom, Connected Nations Report 2020, published 17 December 2020. ** Download speeds calculated using  

About Virgin Media

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

Our network delivers the fastest widely-available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. We’re expanding this through continued investment in our Project Lightning programme, which has seen our network footprint reach an additional 2.5 million premises so far to pass 15.3 million UK premises overall. We are also investing to bring next-generation gigabit speeds to our entire broadband network by the end of 2021, making us the UK’s largest gigabit operator.

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

Virgin Mobile launched the world’s first virtual mobile network and offers fantastic value and innovative services with 5G connectivity. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK.

Through Virgin Media Business we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering a range of connectivity and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media employs around 12,000 people directly in the UK and is part of Liberty Global, one of the world’s leading converged video, broadband and communications companies. Liberty Global connects customers through operations in seven countries across Europe subscribing to 49 million broadband, TV, fixed and mobile telephony services.

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Twitter: @VirginMediaCorp