Birmingham and Coventry are to become Liberty Global’s latest Gigacities, in the UK’s largest gigabit switch-on to date. From March 12th, more than a million homes in the West Midlands are set to benefit from the region’s fastest gigabit home broadband service, which boasts speeds up to 20 times faster than average.
The announcement brings the number of Liberty Global customers who will soon have access to Gigabit broadband to 10 million across Europe. It follows GIGACity rollouts in The Hague in The Netherlands earlier this year and in Southampton, Manchester and Reading in the UK at the end of last year, along with Flanders and Brussels in Belgium, UPC’s entire footprint in Switzerland, 12 cities in Poland and three in Slovakia earlier in 2019.
It forms part of Virgin Media’s plan to roll out gigabit speeds to more than 15 million homes across its network by the end of 2021 – delivering half of the UK Government’s broadband ambition four years early.
Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media, said: “Virgin Media is delivering on its promises, putting its money where its mouth is and bringing next-generation broadband to its entire network. Switching on gigabit speeds for more than a million homes in the West Midlands, the UK’s largest gigabit rollout to date, will be a leap forward for the region and a big step for the Government’s gigabit broadband ambition.
“From gaming to streaming, Gig1’s hyperfast speeds will mean that households can do everything they want to do online, at the same time and without delay, with millions of more homes set to benefit this year as we bring this next-generation connectivity to more cities around the UK.”
Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, who visited Virgin Media’s National Apprenticeship Centre at its Eagle Court office in Birmingham to mark the launch, said: “Today’s announcement means we’re a million homes closer in delivering our plans to deliver gigabit broadband to everyone in the UK. We’re working closely with companies like Virgin Media and investing £5 billion to ensure the hardest to reach areas aren’t left behind – so that every part of the country can enjoy the benefits of a world class internet connection.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “Connectivity like this has the potential to make life easier for people here in the West Midlands and is sure to help our businesses and economy grow. I’ve spoken frequently on the need for good, reliable connectivity in the region and Virgin Media’s investment here in network expansion is an important step towards making the West Midlands one of the best connected places in the country.”
As broadband data use increases tenfold every seven years, gigabit broadband provides the connectivity needed for future applications such as 8K streaming, cloud gaming and virtual reality telepresence without the need to dig up roads and streets to install new cables.
The hyperfast Gig1 Fibre Broadband service offers an average peak-time download speed of 1,104Mbps. Customers taking Gig1 will benefit from Virgin Media’s new and best ever equipped gigabit capable router – the Hub 4. The new router is Virgin Media’s fastest to date and features improved WiFi hardware to provide speedy and reliable connectivity throughout customers’ homes.
The Hub 4 boasts more antennae than its predecessor, the Hub 3, meaning it can manage multiple devices at the same time around the home which can all share the hyperfast speed.
The new router makes use of the operator’s next generation broadband technology, known as DOCSIS 3.1, which it will deploy across its entire cable network over time.
A recently published report for Liberty Global, by leading economists Oxera, found that the rollout of gigabit broadband will lead to transformative changes in the way people interact, socialise, work and stay healthy. The report says the widespread rollout of gigabit broadband will lead to major benefits to society and dramatically improve people’s lives by improving the quality and availability of healthcare services, reduce time lost travelling, help in the fight against climate change and create new ways of interacting with friends and family.