UK cable broadband leader Virgin Media has revealed that it will connect at least 240,000 homes and businesses in Scotland via fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) by the end of 2019. The ultrafast rollout forms part of a commitment to connect 360,000 additional homes and businesses in Scotland to its network, with Virgin announcing in a press release that at least two-thirds of this total will be based on FTTP. Virgin – which currently covers around a million Scottish premises with its HFC DOCIS cable-based network – added that more than a third (roughly 120,000) of the additional Scottish homes and businesses will be connected by the end of 2017 (via FTTP or HFC) in rural and urban areas, with some of the first regions earmarked for rollout including Ayrshire (55,000 premises in Kilmarnock, Ayr, Prestwick and Irvine) and Fife (70,000 premises in Dunfermline, Dalgety Bay, Rosyth and Inverkeithing).
Virgin launched its ‘Project Lightning’ project in February 2015 to increase the number of UK homes and businesses passed by its cable network by nearly a third to 17 million by the end of 2019. In April 2016 Virgin amended its plans, revealing its intention to use FTTP to connect at least a quarter of the roughly four million premises being added (i.e. aiming for over one million UK FTTP premises), and in its Q3 2016 results released this month, Virgin Media set a new target that more than 50% of premises connected under Project Lightning between Q4 2016 and end-2019 would benefit from FTTP. Scotland is the first to benefit from such a large-scale FTTP rollout under the plan.
Regulator Ofcom recently reported that the UK has the lowest proportion of FTTP connections of any OECD nation, whilst also according to Ofcom 73% of Scotland has access to so-called superfast broadband (30Mbps and above), a lower percentage than England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Virgin Media is currently offering cable broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps for consumers and 300Mbps for businesses, with higher-speed commercial FTTP package details yet to be published.