British cableco Virgin Media has named Manchester as the first city to benefit from ‘Project Lightning’, the GBP3 billion (USD4.8 billion) network investment programme which it unveiled in February 2015. In a press release Virgin Media disclosed that it plans to spend around GBP75 million in Manchester, with this investment expected to extend the operator’s hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network to an additional 150,000 homes and businesses, bringing the total covered in the city to 450,000. Work on connecting the first 20,000 of these new premises is understood to be getting underway this week.
Looking ahead, the cableco has said it expects to cover more premises in neighbouring postal towns, with these to be prioritised according to demand from consumers and businesses. With the operator having invited consumers to influence the areas where the network will be rolled out by registering their interest on a dedicated website, Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge was cited as saying: ‘Our message is simple: help us to cable your street. If you want to switch to broadband speeds twice as fast as you can get today, simply register with Virgin Media to ‘cablemystreet’.’
Meanwhile, with regards to this first phase of expansion in Manchester, the UK’s Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: ‘This is wonderful news for Manchester residents and businesses. We are in the midst of a remarkable transformation of the UK’s digital landscape, and Virgin Media’s GBP3 billion investment will play an important role in ensuring our cities are fully equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age in which we live.’