Virgin Media Tests 8Gbps Home Broadband

–        Virgin Media successfully trials home broadband connection offering download speeds of more than 8Gbps – 216 times faster than the UK average

–        The trial prompted SamKnows, Ofcom’s official speed test partner, to fast-track a bespoke speed testing tool to independently verify the speeds

Virgin Media is trialling the UK’s fastest home broadband after successfully testing a connection offering speeds of more than 8Gbps to homes in Cambridgeshire.

The hyperfast connection uses Virgin Media’s existing fibre network to provide download speeds more than 200 times faster the UK average. Triallists are benefiting from symmetrical connectivity, meaning the connection supports simultaneous upload and download speeds of more than 8Gbps.

The trial, made possible through continued network investment and collaboration with Liberty Global, is delivered using an existing fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection meaning that no dedicated line is required. The six month trial will mean around 50 homes in Papworth, Cambridgeshire, can benefit from the UK’s fastest home broadband speeds.

In this trial data is transferred along fibre optic cables using EPON (Ethernet Passive Optical Network) technology – a global point-to-point network standard. EPON is typically used to deliver up to 1Gbps speeds to UK homes, but Virgin Media has been working with technology partner, ARRIS, to trial new equipment and software to increase the speeds that its residential fibre network is capable of delivering.

Richard Sinclair, Executive Director of Connectivity at Virgin Media, said: “As the UK’s fastest widely available broadband provider, we’re committed to making Britain faster and this trial pushes the boundaries of what’s possible.

 “Whether it’s streaming UHD movies on Netflix, playing the latest games online or video conferencing, faster internet connections have changed our lives immeasurably over the past decade. As speed leaders, Virgin Media is not going to stand still; this trial is about looking ahead to the next decade and beyond.

“With the volume of our customers’ internet usage almost doubling every year, trials like this will ensure we have the capability to meet the demand of data-hungry services in the future – be that over cable or full fibre.”

Applied futurist, Tom Cheesewright, who has reviewed the trial said: “Each new leap in internet speeds has spurred a new round of innovation in digital services. Today we are just starting to glimpse the immersive communication and entertainment opportunities that speeds like this will enable, bringing the physical and digital worlds together into a rich, interactive environment.”

“The world thought multi-gigabit speeds would only be for lab tests, businesses and governments” said Steve McCaffery, President, International Sales and Managing Director, International Business Operations at ARRIS, who has been working with Virgin Media to develop the trial. “Thanks to the foresight and ambition of Virgin Media, cutting-edge ARRIS technologies are now in real peoples’ homes.”

The connection speed was tested and independently verified by Ofcom’s technical partner, SamKnows, who fast tracked the development of a brand new speed testing tool specifically designed to test multi-gigabit connections.

Sam Crawford, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at SamKnows, said: “We measure broadband speeds around the world and this trial has been delivering speeds far in excess of what we typically see in customers’ homes. By using SamKnows certified measurements, Virgin Media was able to inexpensively troubleshoot issues quickly to consistently deliver innovative multi-gigabit speeds to real customers.”

With Virgin Media’s hyperfast multi-gigabit connection, ultra-high definition 4K films and TV programmes, very large files and 360 degree videos can be downloaded and uploaded almost instantaneously, even with multiple devices using the connection simultaneously. For example, with the connection users can:

–        Download a high definition (HD) film (5GB) in just 5 seconds, compared to more than 15 minutes on the UK’s average connection.

–        Download an Ultra High Definition 4K film (20GB) in just 20 seconds, compared to more than an hour on the UK’s average connection.

–        Download a very large PlayStation 4 game, for example Red Dead Redemption 2 (99GB download), in less than 2 minutes, compared to more than 5 hours on the UK’s average connection.

–        Upload 300 high-resolution holiday photos (3GB) in just 3 seconds, compared to nearly 1 hour 10 minutes on the UK’s average connection.

Papworth has long been a testbed of innovation for Virgin Media. The Cambridgeshire village is where Virgin Media first tested 1Gbps full fibre to the premises connectivity in 2014, and was also the original test site for the narrow trenching methodology which Virgin Media has used to minimise disruption and speed up deployment when laying new network cables. Virgin Media, through backing from its parent company Liberty Global, is currently investing billions of pounds to expand its network to millions more homes and businesses as part of its Project Lightning expansion programme.

Virgin Media has the largest gigabit-capable network in the UK which currently passes more than 14 million premises. The network consists of both fibre-rich cable and fibre connected directly to premises. Later this year, Virgin Media will be making some larger-scale network announcements to further solidify its speed leadership in the market.

Duncan Newell

Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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