Virgin Media expands fibre network to rural areas

From BBC - March 12, 2018

A local campaign, in conjunction with Virgin Media, has brought fibre broadband to rural communities in Hampshire.

Up to 4,000 residents in 12 villages in Test Valley and Dun Valley will be able to access "ultrafast" internet from late 2019.

Currently, it is almost impossible for residents and businesses in these areas to download, stream or upload files.

The scheme will provide them with a 350Mbps connection.

In order for the network roll-out to be commercially viable, at least 30% of residents had to register their interest in having such a service.

The telecommunications provider also required at least 1,000 residents to commit to a broadband services contract.

The Financial Times reported each customer will face a 300 connection fee.

While Virgin Media is already active in other rural areas, until now it has done so by extending its existing urban operations. What makes the new scheme unique is that the network is being built from scratch.

Community commitment

Virgin Media said a broadband advocate community group representing the 12 villages contacted it in 2016, asking that the company bring its fibre network to their area.

As a result, the telecommunications provider did not find it difficult to get residents to commit. The scheme attracted a sign-up rate of on average 38% across the valleys, while some villages had a take-up of 78%.

"Virgin Media's commitment to this project has been fantastic and I am very pleased to see how quickly the build has already progressed," said Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North.

"Access to fast broadband is essential for modern life and prior to this project, four wards in my constituency were in the lowest 10% for broadband speeds in the country.

"That changes this year and I am delighted for all those who will soon have a 21st century infrastructure in their community."

Disappointed by BT

Independent telecoms analyst Ian Grant said that residents in rural areas are increasingly turning to rural initiatives because they have been "disappointed" by BT.

Seeking alternative solutions


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