Virgin Media has raised the stakes for rival broadband providers with the news that it is to begin rolling out a 100Mb super-fast broadband service.
An official announcement today confirmed that the roll out will start by the end of 2010. A 100Mb connection is 24 times the actual average speed of 4.1Mb provided by other suppliers, as revealed by a market study conducted by Ofcom.
Aimed at heavy internet users with a strong appetite for consuming media and online gaming, the 100Mb service will allow subscribers to download a complete HD movie in seven minutes and 25 seconds, Virgin Media claims. Meanwhile, downloads for a music album and hour-long TV show will take just five seconds and 31 seconds respectively.
Pricing and launch areas for the 100Mb premium broadband product, which features a headline speed twice that of Virgin Media’s current premium XXL broadband product, will be confirmed nearer the launch.
Virgin Media’s chief executive officer, Neil Berkett, dubbed the arrival of the 100Mb product a "historic moment" in the domestic telecoms market and claimed that it will finally allow UK consumers to benefit from the internet experience offered in nations such as South Korea and Japan.
Mr Berkett added: "There is nothing we can’t do with our fibre optic cable network, and the upcoming launch of our flagship 100Mb service will give our customers the ultimate broadband experience.
"Just as we led the way by launching the UK’s first ever next generation service, we want to keep giving our customers the very best broadband available, by investing in technological innovation and transforming the experience they have when they are online."
As if to underscore his faith in the potential for the network, Virgin Media has also announced it is to extend its trial of a 200Mb broadband service to hundreds of households in Coventry. Up until now, tests have been conducted in Kent, with participants empowered to access next-generation broadband applications, including home teleconferencing and downloading HD programmes on-demand.
Virgin Media’s move to raise the speed stakes for UK providers comes after BT unveiled two new fibre optic broadband products, dubbed Infinity, in January. These offer a connection speed of up to 40Mb.
However, BT’s claims for the Infinity offerings have been consistently criticised by Virgin Media. This has centred on the fact that because copper wire is used in BT’s service, Infinity customers whose homes are located far from the local telephone exchange may not receive the connection speeds advertised.