The UK’s second-largest broadband provider by subscribers, Virgin Media, has stoked the fires of competition between it and market leader BT over download speeds available by announcing a more-than GBP100 million (USD154 million) upgrade programme. The cable operator has revealed that, starting next month, it will double the speeds of over four million of its high speed internet subscribers, while also boosting the top speed offered over its hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network to 120Mbps. Virgin Media has said that it expects to complete the upgrade programme over an 18-month period – ending in mid-2013 – with those customers currently on its 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 30Mbps and 50Mbps all seeing their speeds at least doubled, while those signed up to its current top-end speed of 100Mbps will benefit from the bump up to 120Mbps downlink speeds. Under the project, those currently receiving 10Mbps downstream rates will be upgraded to 20Mbps connections, while those on either a 20Mbps or 30Mbps product at present will see an increase to 60Mbps speeds. Those Virgin Media customers taking a 50Mbps service now will be boosted to 100Mbps under the project, with the cableco also noting that upstream speeds and traffic management fair usage amounts will be increased in proportion to the increase in downstream speed.
Commenting on the development, Virgin Media chief executive officer Neil Berkett said: ‘The burgeoning market for better connectivity has given us an opportunity to transform the digital experience of millions of our customers and to bring about a massive step change in the number of UK consumers who have access to exciting, next generation services. Virgin Media has a track record of leading Britain’s digital development and this major initiative will meet the growing demand for faster broadband as well as provide significantly more value to our customers.’
In response to the move meanwhile, British broadsheet The Guardian cites BT as saying of Virgin Media’s announcement: ‘It is no surprise to see that Virgin are following our lead by doubling speeds. We announced we would do this for our fibre products last autumn and so they are trying to catch up with us.’