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Virgin Media has announced that 42,000 homes and businesses in Devon are to be connected to its fibre optic network.

The rollout will form part of the ongoing Project Lightning, a £3 billion scheme to extend ultrafast fibre broadband to 17 million homes by 2019.

Virgin Media has already commenced deployment of the technology in Torquay, where nearly 24,000 premises will be connected, and expects the work to be completed before the end of 2019.

The upgrades mean households will receive broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps, which Virgin Media says is more than two-and-a-half times faster than the maximum speeds offered by Sky, TalkTalk and BT.

Businesses with ultrafast connections will benefit from speeds of up to 300Mbps. Virgin Media says this is nearly four times faster than the maximum speeds available from its competitors.

Maurice Daw, Regional Director at Virgin Media, commented: "We're delighted to be expanding our network to thousands more homes and businesses to help to make Devon a world-class digital hotspot. 

"Local residents and businesses will soon be getting the high-speed connectivity they deserve.

"We urge more people to come together and register their interest - your street could be next."

The move has been hailed as "fantastic news" for local residents and businesses by Councillor Richard Haddock, Executive Lead for Business at Torbay Council.

"Opportunities like this, along with the South Devon Highway, [are] showing the rest of the country that Torbay is a great place to live and work," he said.

Torbay MP Kevin Foster added that it is "great" that Virgin Media is "not just talking about improving our digital infrastructure, but picking up a trowel to do so".

The announcement comes shortly after Virgin Media revealed that its broadband base grew to 4.9 million in the final quarter of 2016, with an extra 48,800 people signing up to its broadband packages.

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