Virgin Media has pledged to upgrade its entire network to next-generation gigabit connections – providing ultra-fast internet access with eye-watering speeds of 1,000Mbps to 15 million households. For comparison, the average broadband speed in the UK is roughly 54.2Mbps. That's a 1,745% increase.
The upgraded network will ensure Virgin Media is comfortably the largest and fastest widely-available gigabit provider in the UK. According to the company, it hopes to complete the work by the end of 2021.
Virgin Media will begin work upgrading its service in cities across its national network later this year, starting with Southampton. By the end of the year, Virgin Media hopes to have more than a million people up-and-running with broadband speeds of 1Gbps – or 1,000Mbps. That's seriously fast.
The speed improvements are set to boost a number of emerging consumer technologies, such a streaming video game services like Google Stadia, virtual reality, smart home gadgets, and 8K video streaming.
Virgin Media CEO Lutz Schüler said: "This is a giant digital leap forward for the UK.
"Virgin Media has been the unparalleled speed leader for many years. Very soon, for the first time ever, millions of people right across the country will be able to experience hyperfast and reliable gigabit internet connections thanks to the latest technology and the power of our network. This upgrade plan will see gigabit speeds rolled out at an unrivalled pace right across the country, bringing our customers the future-proof connections of tomorrow."
A select number of Virgin Media customers in Southampton are already trialling the new 1Gbps connection ahead of the upgrade rolling-out later in the year. No changes to the line connecting the customer’s home are required to introduce services – customers need only to plug in a new router to benefit from the speeds.
Virgin Media still hasn't confirmed pricing or availability for the new 1Gbps plans. These will be announced in the "coming months," it has stated.
Given Virgin Media currently charges £52 a month for its M350 plan, which boasts speeds up to 362Mbps, it's likely not going to be cheap. However, for those with busy households filled with people streaming box sets, playing multiplayer video games online – or streaming entire single-player campaigns from services like Stadia, it could be an essential upgrade.
To demonstrate what sort of speed With Virgin Media customers can expect with the upgraded 1Gbps connection, the company has shared some statistics from its early trials. According to the company, the fibre broadband connection is roughly 20 times faster than the UK average broadband network meaning that users can:
• Download a 1080p High Definition film (5GB) in just 42 seconds, compared to more than 13 minutes on the UK’s average connection
• Download an Ultra High Definition 4K film (20GB) in less than 3 minutes, compared to nearly an hour (52 minutes) on the UK’s average connection.
• Download a PlayStation 4 game, for example FIFA 18 (45GB), in just six and a half minutes, compared to nearly 2 hours on the UK’s average connection.