UK ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) has today switched-on their DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade for 1.5 million more premises (total 8m) in places such as Bournemouth, Bristol, Northampton, Sunderland, Wolverhampton, Wigan and York, which means they can now access their top Gig1 service (1130Mbps download and 52Mbps upload).
At present, VMO2’s customers can already access top ultrafast speeds of c.630Mbps (Ultimate Oomph TV bundle) via the operator’s existing EuroDOCSIS 3.0 based Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network. But their ongoing upgrade to the latest DOCSIS 3.1 network standard is gradually making gigabit speeds available.NOTE: D3.1 improves performance by utilising enhancements like Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which can encode data by using multiple carrier frequencies, and boosting the amount of radio spectrum up to 200MHz. This also supports other enhancements like Distributed Access Architecture / Remote Phy (R-PHY) – here and here.
Until today, a little over 7 million premises had already gained access to this upgrade across big parts of London, N.Ireland, South Wales, Southampton, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow and various surrounding areas.
The rest of their network – 15.5 million premises in total (likely to hit 16m in around 12-months’ time) – are planned to follow by the end of 2021. For the next few years’ VM will thus be able to claim that they’re the largest UK provider of gigabit speeds, even if it is only the on the downstream side (upstream is still D3.0.. for now). Openreach does plan to reach 25 million premises with gigabit FTTP by December 2026, but they’re currently only at 5 million.
Lutz Schüler, CEO of VMO2, said:
“We are upgrading the UK to next-generation connectivity and today we’re hitting another important milestone with more than half of our network now able to access gigabit speeds.
As the UK’s largest gigabit broadband provider today, with a clear plan to connect our entire network to these speeds by the end of the year, we’ll be delivering most of the Government’s broadband target ahead of schedule. Our continued investment is propelling the country up gigabit league tables and providing consumers with the connectivity they need both now and in future.”
Customers who take out the related Gig1Fibre package will be sent a new HUB 4.0 (TG3492LG-VMB / Gigabit Connect Box) router, and you can see the specification for that at the bottom of this article. The HUB 4.0 is VM’s only router with DOCSIS 3.1 support, although they have made the device available on some slower packages in certain areas to help tackle issues of high utilisation (here).
Prices for the new 1Gbps broadband package typically start at £62 per month (standalone broadband) on an 18-month term and come attached to a guaranteed price freeze for at least 24 months. Customers can also take this alongside Virgin Media’s various Pay TV packages, albeit at extra cost.
However, VMO2 does have a future “ambition” to expand their gigabit-capable broadband network (via FTTP) to reach an extra 7 million homes over the next five years. On top of that, they’ll also go back to upgrade their entire fixed line network – c.14.3 million premises in existing Hybrid Fibre Coax areas – to FTTP by the end of 2028 (here). A wholesale solution for UK ISPs is also being prepared.