Virgin Media makes UK FTTP pledge

UK telco Virgin Media has promised to roll out fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) to at least a million homes and businesses as part of its £3 billion Project Lightning investment.

FTTP is a blanket term for a fibre connection that goes all the way to the home (FTTH) or business (FTTB), as opposed to a node or cabinet where the final section of cable is copper-based. FTTP is significantly faster but expensive to roll out. Virgin has pledged that at least a quarter of the four million new connections delivered by the Project Lightning expansion will be FTTP.

“Our £3bn investment to bring ultrafast connectivity to more parts of the UK is not just about better broadband, it’s about future-proofing the country’s network infrastructure with the best and most modern technology,” said Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge. “While some companies talk a good game, Virgin Media is putting its money where its mouth is and laying fibre to the premise alongside our superior HFC network – delivering the  fastest widely available broadband speeds.”

They even got the Chancellor of the Exchequer to put his ten cents in. “Backing firms that grow and create jobs is a key part of our plan to boost productivity and deliver economic security for working people,” said George Osbourne. “It’s fantastic to be at Virgin Media today to hear about their plans to create 500 new hig‎hly skilled jobs this year, and expand their ultrafast internet service to four million new homes and businesses.”

This announcement comes in the same week BT-owned EE announced a big expansion of its 4G coverage, so maybe Virgin Media felt compelled to see its 4G and raise it an FTTP. There is no new investment promised over the original Project Lightning pledge, so this is more about augmenting a coverage programme with a performance pledge.

Apparently Ofcom recently concluded the UK has the lowest proportion of FTTP of any OECD nation. Virgin Media is keen to get as much credit as possible for being instrumental in changing this situation as, it seems, is George Osbourne, with lots of talk about the direct and indirect economic benefit of improved infrastructure. Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire will be the first places to live the FTTP dream.

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