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Virgin Media launch 50Mbps broadband today [Updated]

# 15 December 2008, 11:48 by Cable Forum

Virgin Media has unveiled its highly anticipated 50Mbps broadband service today. It is currently the fastest domestic connection available to UK web surfers. Today (December 15th), Virgin Media held a press conference announcing the news of its release. It will be priced at either £35 per month if you take a phone line (£11 per month, total cost = £46 per month). Or £51 if it is taken as a single product. 50Mbps will have unlimited downloads and there will be no traffic management, though it will remain to be seen if this is a permanent decision. There has been no official word on the upload speeds but these have been rumoured to be 1.75Mbit and will increase to 2.5Mbit in 2009.

According to the Financial Times; Virgin Media’s Chief Executive, Neil Berkett, told investors at a UBS conference in New York last week that the new 50Mbps service will be ‘premium priced’ and also said he saw no reason to ‘go in cheap’.

£51 per month, this might seem expensive to some, but if people can cast their minds back to the early days of ntl broadband, when 1Mbps was first launched it was priced at £49.99 per month for existing customers, new subscribers had to pay £59.99. How times have changed.


Virgin Media have officially confirmed the launch of their 50Mbps broadband service which is available (not everywhere though) today.

Also not mentioned in the announcement below.. An additional £50 activation fee is payable for 50Mb broadband. This is whether it is a new or existing customer … A £30 installation fee may also apply.

From the announcement:

Virgin Media (Nasdaq:VMED), the UK’s leading broadband provider, today launched its much anticipated ultrafast 50Mb broadband service. Giving customers nearly nine times(1) the average headline broadband speed in the UK, the launch of the 50Mb service is a seismic leap forward for broadband access in the UK and the coming of age of Virgin Media’s unique fibre optic cable network.

Neil Berkett, Virgin Media’s CEO, said, “Today marks a historic moment, for both Virgin Media and the UK. As the first ISP to roll out next-generation broadband access, our 50Mb service represents the dawning of a new era of high-speed services in the UK and is just the beginning of what we hope to offer our customers over the coming years. This service will transform the way people interact and entertain themselves online and will provide a broadband experience that is truly world class.”

With the massive take-up of video-rich entertainment and social networking websites, the new 50Mb service is expected to meet the rapidly growing consumer demand for faster broadband speeds and greater bandwidth. Research conducted by YouGov(2) for Virgin Media found that in the last year more than half (53 per cent) of Brits had started watching TV programmes or clips online. The research also found internet use is at an all-time high with 88 per cent of Brits going online every day. The average amount of data consumed by Virgin Media customers has nearly doubled in the last 18 months and is predicted to quadruple by 2011(3).

The 50Mb service will allow users to download(4) an entire music album in as little as 11 seconds, a TV show in around one minute, a high quality movie in as little as 3 1/2 minutes and a high definition movie in around 15 minutes. The increased bandwidth also means that multiple users can be on the internet at the same time without it affecting the quality or speed of their service. This makes 50Mb ideal for families, people in shared households, such as students and couples, or anyone needing to share a broadband connection. YouGov’s research found 71 per cent of UK homes now have two or more computers/laptops or games consoles connecting to the internet. In addition 78 per cent of homes share broadband access as there are two or more people within the home.

The launch of 50Mb is part of a massive investment in Virgin Media’s network and more than doubles the capacity of the original build of the UK cable network, creating the potential for speeds of 200Mb. The upgraded network means significant improvements to the service received by all of Virgin Media’s broadband customers, with current 10Mb and 20Mb users being moved onto the new “DOCSIS3” network(5), freeing up capacity for increased traffic on the existing DOCSIS 1.0 network. In time, the upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 means Virgin Media will be able to handle more than three times the data currently handled by the cable network.

Using the latest state of the art hardware, the 50Mb package comes with a new DOCSIS3.0 modem, a wireless ‘N’ router offering the UK’s fastest wireless connection, plus free anti-virus and anti-spyware software as well as unlimited downloads(6). A typical family will be able to get the new ultrafast service for as little as GBP35 a month(7).

By the end of 2008, Virgin Media will have completed deployment of its next generation infrastructure to 40% of the network. This will include areas in Scotland, the Midlands and South London. Roll-out to the rest of the 12.6 million homes covered by Virgin Media’s fibre optic network is expected to be complete during the Summer of 2009.

To find out more about Virgin Media’s 50Mb service, visit www.virginmedia.com/50

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