100Mb fibre optic broadband is coming to a village in Berkshire this month, thanks to new Virgin Media technology using telegraph poles as a means of delivery.
A six-month trial of the super fast broadband service will be conducted in Woolhampton, and, according to Virgin Media, will boost average connection speeds in the rural location more than tenfold.
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.
In a pioneering move, the 100Mb service will be delivered to residents via overhead telegraph poles and underground ducts. This combination of technologies has previously been tested by Virgin Media in a small-scale pilot scheme in the Cornwall hamlets of Hatt and Saltash.
The broadband provider hopes that the innovative system could prove a cost-efficient means of supplying rural communities with a next-generation service. Currently, remote rural settlements with low density populations are seen by many providers as commercially unviable locations for the provision of fibre optic broadband.
Studies conducted by Virgin Media suggest that harnessing telegraph poles could bring next generation broadband to a further one million homes up and down the UK without the need for government subsidy.
Neil Berkett, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media, said: “This unique trial will allow us to understand the possibilities of aerial deployment and may provide an exciting new way to extend next generation broadband services.
“With everything from BBC iPlayer to YouTube increasingly demanding reliable ultrafast broadband speeds, we’re keen to ensure that all communities, in towns, cities and villages right across the UK, stand to benefit.”
Participants in the Woolhampton trial will also be given access to Virgin Media’s broadband TV service, which offers around 5,000 hours of catch up TV and on demand content, including sport and movie premieres.
A 100Mb broadband connection speed will allow subscribers to download a complete HD movie in seven minutes and 25 seconds. Meanwhile, downloading a music album and hour-long TV show will take just five seconds and 31 seconds respectively.
Virgin Media, whose premium XXL product offers a headline speed of 50Mb, is also currently undertaking trials of a 200Mb broadband service to hundreds of households in Coventry. However, unlike the Woolhampton scheme this relies exclusively on a traditional fibre optic broadband network.
The broadband provider is aiming to begin rolling out its 100Mb service across the UK by the end of the year.