Virgin Media is the first ISP in the UK to offer a “super fast” residential broadband service of 50Mbps.

Using FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) technology and then a high-speed copper link to the home, the service is not cheap: it is £51 per month, although this can be reduced to £35 if Virgin Media’s broadband users opt for a Virgin phone line, which costs £11 per month.

Virgin Media has been conducting trials of the service during summer 2008 and is aiming to roll out the 50Mbps service across its cable network – which covers around half the UK – over the next six months. If all goes to plan, the broadband service should reach 12.6 million UK households by summer 2009.

Virgin Media has said it has already invested £1.5bn in laying fibre as far as the street.

With faster speeds, the idea is that customers will be able to do such things as interactive gaming, download online video quickly and watch HDTV, simultaneously, via multiple devices (PC and TV) in the home.

“This service will transform the way people interact and entertain themselves online,” Virgin Media chief executive Neil Berkett said in a statement.

Virgin Media’s consumer broadband service is, on average, nine times faster than what is available in the UK today.