Virgin Media doubles fibre to the premises target

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UK cable operator Virgin Media has raised the target for the number of properties that it will connect with fibre under its £3 billion Project Lightning network expansion programme.

In its third quarter 2016 results, the operator said it plans to connect 2 million properties with fibre to the premises (FTTP), double the amount it originally anticipated.

“We have concluded that, in many cases, large scale builds deploying narrow trenching to build FTTP are more cost efficient than smaller infill opportunities. As a result, our targeted FTTP build has increased from 25% to 50% of our four million premises target, and the overall cost of the programme remains unchanged,” parent company Liberty Global said in its Q3 2016 report.

This will put pressure on rival BT, which has backed G.fast technology from street cabinets – rather than full fibre to the home – in its plans to bring ultrafast broadband to UK consumers (see Huawei and Nokia selected for BT Openreach G.fast roll-out).

Virgin Media said it added 95,000 new properties to its network in the third quarter; taking the year-to-date Project Lightning build to 250,000. This helped it to reach a record 45,000 new customers in the quarter.

An indication of the growing appetite for high-speed services, Virgin Media also notes that more than half of its customers now take broadband services at 100Mb/s or faster.

Project Lightning is on track to reach between 450,000 and 500,000 new premises across the UK and Ireland by the end of the year, as the cable operator steps up the pace via its construction partners.

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