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More than 1.5 million homes can now sign up for Virgin Media’s 50Mb service, with the number of areas where it is available “growing all the time”.

Following its official launch in mid-December, Virgin Media’s 50Mb service is now available in more than 1.5 million homes across the UK, with the company on target to achieve its aim of reaching 12.5 million homes by summer 2009.

Currently the 50Mb service is available in London, Liverpool, Glenrothes, Bradford, Croydon, Dundee, Hayes, Wolverhampton, Wigan, New York and Dudley. According to Gareth Mead of Virgin Media’s press department, the number of areas with the service is “growing all the time” and will be in accessible in all cable areas in the third quarter. Mr Mead also noted that the towns and cities which are next in line for the service will be urban areas with dense populations that are currently being prioritised by Virgin Media.

Work on extending the service comes as the company is currently heavily promoting its 50Mb option with a TV advertising campaign starring Samuel J Jackson. The 20-second spot finds the star of Pulp Fiction claiming that the launch of 50Mb marks the moment that the “internet revolution really happened”. The ads also prominently feature the “Mother of All Broadband” slogan which is used in the print, online and outdoor facets of the campaign.

Ashley Stockwell, managing director of brand and marketing at Virgin Media, said: “50Mb is a massive leap forward for the broadband market and promises to transform the way people interact and entertain themselves online. Samuel L Jackson is an unmistakeably powerful voice to deliver our message and bring the impact of ultrafast broadband right into people’s living room.”

New customers who sign up for 50Mb service pay £51 per month for a broadband connection only, while those who also take a Virgin Media phone line pay £35 per month for broadband and a further £11 for telephony. This entitles them to unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines. A one-off connection fee of £50 is also levied by the company. Existing Virgin Media customers on its 20Mb service, meanwhile, can upgrade for an extra £10 per month. Finally, a bundled triple play offering is also available at £66 per month and includes cable TV, a landline and 50Mb broadband.

Both new and current customers are given a free modem, wireless N router and adaptor and free PCguard internet security and can access exclusive content developed in conjunction with brands such as Encyclopaedia Britannica and Lego.

Virgin Media claims that the service will enable subscribers to download entire movies in around three minutes, an album in around ten seconds and a TV show in a minute. Other benefits include reducing ‘ping’ for gamers and allowing smooth streaming of video and TV in high definition.

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