Virgin Media: ultrafast broadband isn’t just for big cities

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UK cable operator Virgin Media has named the next 30 communities, voted for by local residents and businesses, that will be connected with fibre broadband run directly to their property offering ultrafast, future-proof connectivity.

‘By bringing fibre to the parishes and smaller communities, it shows that ultrafast broadband and top-notch TV isn’t just for big cities,’ said Paul Buttery, chief operating officer at Virgin Media.

The 30 communities are the next stage of Virgin Media’s ‘Supercharging Local Communities’ initiative, and are expected to be connected by spring 2017.

Launched earlier this year, the initiative is part of Virgin Media’s £3 billion Project Lightning network expansion. As part of these plans, the UK cable operator has committed to connecting fibre to the premise (FTTP) to at least a quarter of the four million additional homes and businesses being added to the Virgin Media network.

Taking a leaf out of Google’s play book, Virgin Media is expanding its network by using demand aggregation techniques. Local residents and businesses were urged to vote for their community to be one of the first to benefit from faster broadband.

The voting was paused temporarily at the end of April to announce the first 10 communities which received the most votes (see Virgin Media names 10 communities to benefit from fibre).

Since then more than 5,000 votes cast between 29 February and 30 June via the Cable My Street website, leading to Virgin Media deciding to accelerate its plans.

Paul Buttery said: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the response from the local communities and as a result we have decided to speed up our network expansion plans, to connect the next 30 villages by spring 2017. But we won’t stop there – we urge more people to come forward and tell us where we should expand to next.’

The next 30 communities are confirmed as follows, in order of the votes cast:

  1. Windlesham (Surrey)
  2. Sutton Courtenay (Oxfordshire)
  3. Balsall Common (West Midlands)
  4. Old Basing (Hampshire)
  5. Oakley (Hampshire)
  6. Farnham Common (Buckinghamshire)
  7. Wargrave (Berkshire)
  8. Lickey, Catshill, Marlbrook & Barnt Green (Worcestershire)
  9. Cullingworth (West Yorkshire)
  10. Shrivenham (Oxfordshire)
  11. Baddesley Ensor (Warwickshire)
  12. Harden (West Yorkshire)
  13. Broughton Astley (Leicestershire)
  14. Grimethorpe (South Yorkshire)
  15. Wigginton & Haxby (North Yorkshire)
  16. Copmanthorpe (North Yorkshire)
  17. Grassmoor (Derbyshire)
  18. Pontyclun (Rhondda)
  19. Darfield (South Yorkshire)
  20. Talke & Talke Pits (Staffordshire)
  21. Cudworth (South Yorkshire)
  22. Duffield (Derbyshire)
  23. Shafton (South Yorkshire)
  24. Denham (Buckinghamshire)
  25. Llanharry (Rhondda)
  26. Marcham (Oxfordshire)
  27. North Leigh (Oxfordshire)
  28. Repton (Derbyshire)
  29. North Cornelly (Bridgend)
  30. Watchfield (Oxfordshire)

The FTTP expansion uses an innovative way of bringing ultrafast broadband to people’s homes with minimal disruption. The approach, called narrow-trenching, reduces the width of the trench used to lay optical fibre cables from around 40cm to just 10cm and enables engineers to cover up to 100m in a day, making it more than twice as fast as current methods, according to Virgin Media.

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