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Virgin Media has announced plans to extend its network in the north-east of England.

Around 5,000 homes in Hartlepool, Darlington, Sunderland and Stockton-On-Tees will gain access to the cable provider's 152Mb broadband services as a result of the rollout.

Deployment work is set to be completed by the end of the month, meaning consumers have plenty of time to sign up for a Virgin Media broadband bundle before Christmas.

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s Chief Executive Officer, said thousands more homes will benefit from the decision to expand the network.

He noted that many will gain access to the UK's fastest widely-available broadband for the first time.

"We are proud to be supercharging Teesside, helping people make the most of the UK’s exciting digital future," Mr Mockridge stated.

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland and Shadow Minister for Culture Media and Sport, said Virgin Media's investment in the region's broadband infrastructure is "welcome".

She praised the "innovative new techniques" that network builders like Virgin Media are exploring to lay faster broadband more quickly and efficiently.

Ms Goodman added that this must be "good news" for closing the digital divide.

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