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Virgin Media has announced that up to 9,000 homes and business in Washington 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.

This means homes in Durham will be able to receive broadband speeds of up to 300Mbps, while small businesses will get speeds of up to 350Mbps.

Virgin Media believes this will transform the quality of broadband in the area, as the current average download speed is just 20Mbps.

Hugh Woolford, Regional Director at Virgin Media, commented: "By expanding our network in Washington to thousands more homes and businesses, we are making the area a digital hotspot. 

"Time-strapped families will soon be benefitting from the reliability of a service that’s up to 17 times faster than the local average."

Local MP Sharon Hodgson described Virgin Media's network expansion as "great news" for households and businesses in the area, as ultrafast broadband speeds are "vital in this ever-changing digital climate".

"Faster broadband speeds will also make Washington an attractive location for new businesses who might be interested in coming to the area," she added.

One key benefit of the speed improvements will be that households in Washington will be able to stream ultra-high-definition TV.

Local residents with Virgin TV's V6 set-top box will have access to up to 245 TV channels, including 50 in HD, Sky Sports and BT Sport channels, Sky Movies, Netflix and an extensive collection of box sets and movies.

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