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Lightning - the fibre roll-out continues

Sofa Bear

We've pledged to accelerate the UK’s rollout of fibre optic broadband direct to homes and businesses.

We will connect fibre to the premise (FTTP) to at least a quarter of the 4 million additional homes and businesses being added to the Virgin Media network, as part of our ‘Project Lightning’ expansion plans.

Backed by parent company Liberty Global, Virgin Media will connect a total of 17 million premises to the network by 2019. This is the single largest investment in the UK’s broadband infrastructure in more than a decade.

Ofcom recently reported that the UK has the lowest proportion of fibre connections running directly to homes and businesses (known as FTTP) of any OECD nation. The plans unveiled by Virgin Media today are a significant boost to the UK’s ambitions to become a ‘fibre nation’. As a result, Virgin Media becomes the UK’s largest wholly fibre broadband network in the UK.

This announcement marks the latest stage in a transformation of Virgin Media. The Company is already extending its ‘always faster’ network to more areas of the UK, as an alternative to the ageing copper telephony-based network offered by incumbent BT.  

Superior network

Virgin Media’s UK network offers the fastest widely-available speeds of up to 200Mbps for consumers and 300Mbps for businesses.

Virgin Media has a Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network in the UK which combines optical fibre and coaxial cable. The core network is fibre optic which provides ultrafast broadband to the street cabinet. Broadband is then delivered to the majority of premises using the Company’s superior coaxial cable powered by DOCSIS3 technology.

Giving a significant boost to the UK’s digital economy, Virgin Media is committing to providing FTTP to at least one in four properties in its Project Lightning expansion.

Fibre rollout

Virgin Media has already started to roll out fibre to the premise (FTTP) in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire with work expected to start soon in West Yorkshire, Devon and East Sussex.

Using new engineering techniques such a ‘narrow trenching’, FTTP can be deployed at lower cost and more quickly in areas where demand is high.

Boosting the economy and creating jobs

Project Lightning will deliver a significant boost to the UK. Estimates by economic consultancy Oxera state that Project Lightning will benefit the UK economy by an estimated £8 billion. Virgin Media expects that Project Lightning will be directly responsible for creating 6,000 new jobs, including 1,000 new apprentices.

Since Project Lightning launched in February 2015 Virgin Media has connected 250,000 new premises, and has created 2,100 jobs in the UK. During 2016 Virgin Media expects to connect 500,000 new premises, creating a further 500 jobs in the UK.


Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, said:

Our £3bn investment to bring ultrafast connectivity to more parts of the UK is not just about better broadband, it’s about future-proofing the country’s network infrastructure with the best and most modern technology.

While some companies talk a good game, Virgin Media is putting its money where its mouth is and laying fibre to the premise alongside our superior HFC network - delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds.

In just over one year we’ve laid enough new cable to stretch all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats, reaching a quarter of a million more homes and businesses – and there’s much more to come.

About the author
  • As the UK’s first provider of all four broadband, TV, mobile phone and home phone services, we believe in digital that makes good things happen, for people, communities and businesses. We will do everything we can to ensure technology is a force for good. This is why we’re committed to providing the best guidance, support and services here in the community.