Virgin Throws Down the Ultra Challenge
LONDON -- Broadband World Forum 2016 -- Tom Mockbridge, CEO of Virgin Media, has thrown down a challenge to his broadband rivals by highlighting Virgin's high-speed attractions in front of an audience at last week's Broadband World Forum.
During a Thursday presentation at the London event, the boss of the UK cable company was quick to note that Virgin broadband, which Mockridge labels a "hero product," is leading the charge for the fastest connections in the UK and Ireland, providing speeds of up to 200 Mbit/s over DOCSIS 3.0 technology. What's more, a future upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1, the next-generation cable standard, is aimed at supporting gigabit-speed connections and looks to be completed within the next 18 months.
Owned by the Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) cable group, Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) is currently expanding its network as part of its £3 billion ($3.7 billion) Project Lightning initiative, which is designed to bring superfast Internet connectivity to about two thirds of UK homes by 2019 -- up from about half before work started last year.
Mockridge took the opportunity to point out that Virgin is getting on with the job of investing its own private money and has not had a need for government subsidies. He also called for a more level playing field in the UK market.
Those remarks were an obvious dig at telco incumbent BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), which has controversially received about £1.7 billion ($2.1 billion) in funding from Broadband Delivery UK, a part of the government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Despite government munificence, BT's highest-speed broadband service delivers only 76 Mbit/s, making it much slower than Virgin's highest-speed offering. BT, however, plans to upgrade its networks using a copper-based technology called G.fast, and reckons this will support services of at least 300 Mbit/s in the future. With the ultrafast race gathering momentum, British consumers seem likely to end up as the real winners.
— Elliot Richards, Senior Editor, UBB2020
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