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Virgin Media promises “Gigabit Britain”

Written by: Emma Lunn
Virgin Media plans to boost internet speeds for millions of customers across the UK – but customers are paying the price.

Virgin Media is introducing download speeds of at least 1Gbps to 15 million homes across the UK. The connection is almost 20 times faster than the UK average broadband speed.

The latest technology will be rolled out across Virgin Media’s entire network over the next two years starting in Southampton where the first trial customers are already connected.

The rapid expansion programme will mean more than a million people will be able to access broadband speeds of 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) by the end of 2019.

A 1Gbps connection will allow people to take advantage of emerging consumer technologies such as cloud gaming, virtual reality entertainment, 8K video streaming, remote health telemonitoring and advanced telepresence, which could allow consumers to go “virtual reality shopping” or watch live broadcasts of holographic sports events.

With a 1Gbps connection, users will be able to download a high definition (HD) film (5GB) in just 42 seconds, compared to more than 13 minutes on the UK’s average connection. A 20GB ultra high definition 4K film will download in less than three minutes, compared to nearly an hour (52 minutes) on a typical broadband connection.

Virgin Media, through the backing of Liberty Global, has invested billions of pounds to expand its network and provide speed upgrades that it says are unmatched by other providers.

Lutz Schüler, chief executive officer of Virgin Media, said: “This is a giant digital leap forward for the UK. Virgin Media has been the unparalleled speed leader for many years. Very soon, for the first time ever, millions of people right across the country will be able to experience hyperfast and reliable gigabit internet connections thanks to the latest technology and the power of our network.

“This upgrade plan will see gigabit speeds rolled out at an unrivalled pace right across the country, bringing our customers the future-proof connections of tomorrow.”

Price hikes

However, Virgin Media customers are paying the price for the network improvements, whether they will be able to get a Gigabit connection in the near future or not.

About five million Virgin Media broadband, TV and home phone customers will see price increases of up to £4.50 a month (£54 a year) from this autumn. Letters are currently being sent out to affected customers stating the new package prices. Virgin Media also raised its prices in November last year when bills went up by up to 4.5 per cent.

Those who signed up to an ‘Oomph’ broadband, TV and Sim bundle from 29 April, and those on Talk Protected plans for over-65s or those with accessibility needs, won’t be affected by the increases.

Virgin Media says affected customers unhappy with the price rise can leave their contract early without paying any early termination charges. To do so, you’ll need to contact Virgin Media within 30 days of receiving your notification of the price increase.

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