British cableco Virgin Media has unveiled ‘Project Lightning’, under which it will undertake what it has claimed will be ‘the single largest investment in broadband digital infrastructure in the country for more than a decade’. In a press release confirming its investments plans, Virgin Media has outlined plans to extend its hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) network to around four million additional premises over the next five years, with the support of parent company Liberty Global. Noting that such expansion will increase the number of homes and businesses that it will serve by almost a third – to around 17 million by 2020 – the company will spend around GBP3 billion (USD4.59 billion).
Network expansion will reportedly be prioritised according to demand from households and companies, with a focus on areas closest to Virgin Media’s existing network. As such, the operator is calling on both communities and businesses to register their interest online if they are interested in having cable brought to their areas via newly-launched portals on the Virgin Media website.
Commenting on the plans, Virgin Media chief executive Tom Mockridge noted: ‘Millions of homes and businesses will soon be able to benefit for the first time from broadband speeds at least twice as fast as those available from the other major providers.’ For its part, Mike Fries, Liberty Global CEO, added: ‘Our next-generation fibre-rich networks reach 50 million households across Europe, enabling our customers to discover and experience the endless possibilities of the digital world. After a record operating performance, Project Lightning is a significant investment that demonstrates the confidence we have in Virgin Media and the UK as a place to do business.’ Meanwhile, with around 6,000 jobs and apprenticeships expected to be created on the back of the investment, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was cited as saying: ‘I welcome this substantial investment from Virgin Media which is a vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan to support business and create jobs by building a superfast nation backed by world-class infrastructure. These 6,000 new jobs and apprenticeships will mean financial security and economic peace of mind for thousands more hardworking families across the country. Together with this Government’s rollout of superfast broadband which has now reached more than two million UK homes and businesses, this additional private investment will create more opportunities for people and businesses, further boosting our digital economy and helping secure a brighter future for Britain.’