The Need For Speed
(The Following is a Promoted Article)
Virgin Media has been at the forefront of UK broadband infrastructure for a number of years. However, its ambitious endeavours show no sign of slowing. Indeed, the accelerator pedal has been floored once again with the announcement earlier this year of Project Lightning. In the single largest investment in UK broadband for a decade, Virgin Media is investing £3bn to extend its ultrafast capability to an additional four million premises, taking its reach up to 17 million by 2020.
As the world’s most internet-based major economy, broadband infrastructure and the opportunities it offers, is increasingly central to the country’s growth over the coming years. Virgin Media is already central to this growth but it recognises that it cannot stand still. The £3bn of additional private investment it is making is essential for individuals and businesses to thrive in the global digital economy, currently providing speeds up to 200Mbps with 300Mbps announced for 2016. Significantly, the investment also has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in what will be a multi-billion pound boost to the national economy.
Certainly, Virgin Media Business has the potential to make a huge impact in future. It already provides products and services to a wide community of businesses and public sector organisations with most of its 40,000 clients being small and medium-sized enterprises. In a groundbreaking report issued recently, it found the economy could receive a £92bn boost if firms fully develop their digital potential. It also found that in the last 12 months, digital capabilities generated £123bn in business revenues, equivalent to 3.4% of total GDP.
It is therefore fundamental for both the growth of business and the UK economy, that businesses of all sizes have access to cheaper, faster, more reliable broadband in order to fulfil this potential digital opportunity. Critically, Virgin Media Business works closely with key government departments including the DCMS to remain at the forefront of developments.
This has included assistance to enhance commercial opportunities through the internet. For example, recently it launched a free small business broadband installation scheme to help them get online. This came as the Government’s Super Connected Cities (SCC) voucher programme closed in October. Following high levels of demand for the vouchers and the support the scheme provided to thousands of small businesses, Virgin Media Business committed to cover up to £1,000 of installation costs for new business customers in the same cities covered by the SCC. This is being trialled until the end of the year.
Elsewhere, in September, Virgin announced it was bringing ultrafast broadband to Manchester’s Tech Quarter, giving a boost to the local economy and business productivity in the area. Through a package that has been specially designed to support the connectivity needs of businesses located in multi-tenanted buildings, 3,000 businesses co-located in 300 buildings will now have access to the fastest, cheapest and most reliable internet connections. This followed a similar launch in London’s Tech City earlier this year where more than 450 London businesses located in 70 buildings are being connected to Virgin Media Business’s dedicated connections.
Delivery of its ambitious plans isn’t a straight forward task but these are challenges Virgin Media Business is confident it can tackle. When rolling out broadband there are numerous things that can get in the way – wayleaves, business rates and even things like parking restrictions – so it is vital that a close working relationship with local authorities is established.
Innovative ways of deploying fibre cables such as narrow trenching are assisting the process through increased efficiency and speed of installation. Moreover, narrow trenching reduces the width of the trench used to lay fibre cables from around 40cm to just 10cm and enables engineers to cover up to 100m in a day, twice as fast as current methods.
Crucially, Virgin Media is the only widely available provider to use DOCSIS 3 technology to provide broadband from the cabinet to people’s homes. It is the use of this coaxial cable which enables it to support faster speeds without deterioration over distance and is what allows for ultrafast speeds of 200Mbps and beyond. Yet, the advantages of this are only possible through support at a local level. It’s important local authorities work with Virgin Media to cut red tape and remove barriers to broadband rollout.
Plans are now in motion with over 250,000 premises already earmarked for build in Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds with more locations to be announced this year.