The rollout of Virgin Media’s super fast broadband service across the UK first started in October 2010 and was initially expected to be completed by mid-2012, offering its millions of customers connection speeds up to 120Mbps across the country.
The Internet provider has now confirmed it is ahead of schedule with the service already available in over ten million homes, according to the Guardian. "Reaching today’s milestone puts us ahead of schedule as we help propel the UK up the global broadband rankings. Broadband is coming of age as more people give up on slow DSL in favor of superfast fiber-optic speeds," said Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media.
Virgin Media had previously rolled out 100Mbps services in select areas of the country but it is now topping at 120Mbps. Over the next 18 months the company plans to upgrade the connection speeds of its entire customer base, with existing 10Mbps subscribers getting a bump to 20Mbps, those that currently have 20Mbps or 30Mbps packages getting 60Mbps, while Brits on a 50Mbps service will achieve 100Mbps after the upgrade. Those that purchase Virgin Media's 100Mbps service will also see their speed increased to 120Mbps.
Their 50Mbps service has one of the highest averages in the country, with data from industry regulator Ofcom announcing in November that the ISP has an average of 49Mbps on its 50Mbps service. My connection regularly reports 55+Mbps when checking the connection speed. The country-wide average broadband speed in the UK is now 7.6Mbps, up from 6.2Mbps the same time last year.
Virgin faces stiff competition from British Telecom, which is also doubling existing speeds and offering customers up to 80Mbps connections. The latter just finished trialing its 300Mbps Infinity service and plans to roll it out countrywide from spring this year, although subscribers to the new service will be required to have installed dedicated fiber connections from the local cabinets in order to receive those speeds.
Both ISP’s are racing to provide customers with the fastest possible speeds, whilst simultaneously hoping to starve out any competition from TalkTalk and BSkyB, neither of which have any fiber infrastructure and therefore cannot offer anywhere near the same speed. That said, Sky is currently trialing the faster service from BT and may rent fiber-infrastructure from them to offer similar services to its customers in the near future.