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Virgin Media launches superfast broadband

Cable customers to get up to 50Mbps internet speed

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Virgin Media, one of the UK’s biggest broadband providers, has launched a new cable broadband service that offers internet speeds of up to 50Mbps. Previously, Virgin Media’s fastest cable broadband offer provided speeds of up to 20Mbps.

The 50Mbps broadband launch follows an announcement by BT earlier this year of plans to roll out its own fast broadband network to 10 million UK homes by 2012.

How fast is 50Mbps?

Virgin Media says that its new superfast broadband service has a maximum internet speed of nearly nine times the average UK headline broadband speed. At a full 50Mbps, it says, this would allow cable broadband customers to download an entire music album in as little as 11 seconds, a TV show in around one minute, a high quality movie in between three and four minutes and a high definition movie in around 15 minutes. 

Virgin Media also says that increased broadband bandwidth means that multiple broadband users can be on the internet at the same time without affecting the quality or speed of their cable broadband service.

Superfast broadband availability and cost

Virgin Media said this month that it was making its superfast broadband available to 1.3 million homes in Dudley, Liverpool, New York (near Tyneside), Hayes, Wigan, Croydon, Bradford, Dundee, Glenrothes and Wolverhampton.

Roll-out of the upgraded broadband service 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.

Virgin Media’s 50Mbps broadband service will cost £51 per month as a stand-alone service or £35 when taken with a phone line (which costs £11). Customers with additional Virgin Media services will benefit from bundle discounts.

Broadband regulator welcomes 50Mbps broadband

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: ‘We welcome the roll out of super-fast broadband in Virgin Media’s network. This will give millions of consumers the opportunity to take up faster broadband services.

‘Alongside the plans announced by BT and other providers, this means that consumers can look forward to super-fast broadband in many areas of the UK.

‘Ofcom continues to work closely with industry and others to define the regulatory environment for super-fast broadband deployment. We expect to publish a statement on our proposals early in 2009.’

More broadband advice

Which? broadband expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘These days, many of us consider broadband to be an essential service rather than an optional extra. Data-intensive online pastimes like online gaming and increasing use of BBC iPlayer and other online TV services are making faster broadband speeds increasingly important – although for anyone who just wants a broadband service for general surfing and emailing, a reliable 2Mbps remains more than adequate.

‘Heavier broadband users or households where several people will be using the broadband connection at the same time are most likely to see the benefit of faster speeds.

’50Mbps is a huge leap in broadband speed – although like all internet services, remember that this is a maximum internet speed and you may not achieve this broadband speed all – or indeed any – of the time. But with such a high headline speed, even achieving half of 50Mbps would make for a speedy broadband experience.’

Check out the Which? broadband review to compare broadband services from more than 30 internet service providers


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