17,000 more homes and businesses able to access Virgin Media broadband

Virgin Media engineers work in the street
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
25 February 2020

More than 17,000 additional homes and businesses across the UK can now access Virgin Media’s ultrafast broadband network.

Residents and businesses in parts of Chester, Moira and Magheralin in County Down, Northern Ireland, Wickford in Essex, 12 villages in Test and Dun Valley, Northumberland and Sunderland can now enjoy a much faster, more reliable internet connection.

As part of its ‘Project Lightning’ network expansion programme, Virgin Media is expanding its ultrafast broadband network across the UK, bringing average top speeds of 516Mbps to residents and small businesses. This will help transform the quality of broadband in these areas where the average download speed is as low as 39Mbps and it takes them nearly 20 minutes to download a movie.

Residents and businesses will benefit from fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology, which gives users a smoother, more reliable connectivity in the home. A 516Mbps connection means that users can download files, films and games unbelievably quickly. A standard HD movie file can be downloaded in less than a minute and a half, instead of the 18 minutes it would take on the average connection.

Two Virgin Media engineers working on Project Lightning
Image from Virgin Media

Rural connection

This network expansion has been especially welcomed in the villages in Test and Dun Valley, where locals campaigned for years for faster broadband. Many providers were put off by the challenging nature of the work required to implement a fibre network in the area. 

Virgin Media agreed an initiative which required at least 30 per cent of premises to commit to signing up for services once the work was completed. In some villages more than 75 per cent of residents signed up and work began in early 2018.

Council officials in Test and Dun Valley prepare for the installation of Virgin Media
Image from Virgin Media

Virgin Media worked closely with local residents and businesses in the area. They laid 60 miles of micro duct and fibre optic cables through the 12 villages, minimising disruption on narrow country lanes by using a ‘mole plough’ to dig nine miles of channels through farmers’ fields to lay fibre.

Rob Evans, MD Network Expansion at Virgin Media, said: “Our network investment and expansion in Test and Dun Valley has brought life-changing connectivity to an area forgotten by other providers. This was a completely new concept for us which required a unique approach in what was one of our most rural broadband builds to date. It has been a real collaborative effort from the start and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from residents and landowners. We’re proud to give this community the broadband boost it deserves.”

Visit Virgin Media to find out more.