Virgin Bringing 50 Mbps Broadband to UK

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UK cable operator Virgin Media has announced it will be launching 50 Mbps broadband service in Britain, leveraging the company’s fiber optic network. The move makes Virgin Media the first UK ISP to roll out 50 Mbps capabilities, and the best parrt might be the pricing: the 50 Mbps package will run just £51 per month, or £35 with a landline bundle.

“Today marks a historic moment, for both Virgin Media and the UK,” said Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett, in a statement. “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.”

The new 50 Mbps package is enabled by Virgin Media rolling out DOCSIS3 on its fiber network, and the technology promises to enable bandwidth as great as 200 Mbps in the future. The transition to DOCSIS3 also will free up bandwidth for customers using the existing DOCSIS1 system, so not only do they not have to worry about 50 Mbps customers stealing their bandwidth, they should actually see their service improve. The 50 Mbps package will come with a new DOCSIS3 router with integrated 802.11g/n Wi-Fi service, plus free antivirus and anti-spyware software.

U.S. cable operator Comcast is also introducing 50 Mbps service in selected U.S. markets using DOCSIS3; however, unlike Comcast, Virgin has not announced any plans to cap bandwidth utilization by customers, or charge users extra for exceeding download limits.

Virgin Media says the 50 Mbps option will be available on 40 percent of its network, including areas of Scotland, the Midlands and South London, by the end of 2008. The entire network should be up and running with DOCSIS3 by mid-2009.


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