Virgin to make £3bn investment in fibre broadband network

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‘Project Lightning’ will connect a further four million homes and businesses to speeds of 152Mbps and create 6,000 jobs over the next five years

Virgin Media is investing £3 billion in its broadband network that will connect four million homes and businesses to speeds of 152Mbps and lead to the creation of 6,000 jobs by 2020.

‘Project Lightning’ is the single largest investment in broadband digital infrastructure in the country for more than a decade.

The extension of the firm’s fibre broadband network will see the number of homes and businesses to which it can offer services grow by almost a third, from around half of the country today to nearly 17 million premises overt the next five years.

Project Lightning is also expected to create 6,000 new jobs in the UK at Virgin Media and across its construction partners, with roles including jobs to support engineering and sales efforts.

It will also lead to the creation of 1,000 new apprenticeships at the company over the next five years. Since it began in 2008, almost 1,000 young people have gained recognised skills and experience in this scheme while earning.

Virgin Media said households connecting to Virgin Media for the first time will benefit from broadband speeds of 152Mbps – at least twice as fast as the fastest speeds from rivals BT, TalkTalk and Sky.

It added home workers and SMEs will also receive a boost from better connectivity in areas where Virgin Media Business will become available for the first time.

Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge said: “Millions of homes and businesses will soon be able to benefit for the first time from broadband speeds at least twice as fast as those available from the other major providers. Consumers and business owners who want to make the switch to better broadband speeds now have an alternative.”

Economic effects

According to analysis undertaken by economic consultancy Oxera, the £3 billion investment is expected to boost the UK economy by £8 billion.

Prime Minister David Cameron added: “I welcome this substantial investment from Virgin Media which is a vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan to support business and create jobs by building a superfast nation backed by world-class infrastructure. These 6,000 new jobs and apprenticeships will mean financial security and economic peace of mind for thousands more hardworking families across the country.

“Together with this Government’s rollout of superfast broadband which has now reached more than two million UK homes and businesses, this additional private investment will create more opportunities for people and businesses, further boosting our digital economy and helping secure a brighter future for Britain.”

Virgin concluded that when it comes to making the most of increasingly connected lives, speed and capacity matters, adding the number of internet-enabled devices has grown “significantly” in the past decade, as homes and businesses are increasingly connected to multiple devices at the same time.

It added six out of ten of its customers now have at least three devices connected to their home broadband, up from 37 per cent a year ago, with data usage on its network growing at a rate of around 60 per cent every year, which, if this trend continues, will be 10,000 per cent higher in ten years.

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  1. I hope they spend at least a £10 of the £3Bn on doubling the quality of their customer service! Thank god our Virgin Media contract is up in a couple of months, broadband crap, customer service useless! We get a better signal and broadband speeds from next doors TalkTalk wireless!

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