Virgin Media customers on a range of broadband packages are to receive a free upgrade boosting speeds to as high as 120Mbit/s, as the UK's internet infrastructure continues to evolve.
The upgrades will begin from February 2012 and are expected to be completed by mid-2013. They will be provided to around four million customers on packages starting from 10Mbit/s to 100Mbit/s, as detailed below:
- 10Mbit/s customers will be upgraded to 20Mbit/s
- 20Mbit/s and 30Mbit/s customers will be upgraded to 60Mbit/s
- 50Mbit/s customers will be upgraded to 100Mbit/s
- 100Mbit/s customers will be upgraded to 120Mbit/s
Virgin explained that because most customers have modems that can cope with speeds of up to 400Mbit/s as standard, the upgrades can take place over the network without the need for any hardware upgrades.
Ovum principal analyst Charlie Davies told V3 that Virgin was chiefly offering the increase to act as a strong marketing exercise to both new and existing customers.
"With this announcement Virgin will be hoping to increase its market share by attracting new customers, while also reducing churn [current customers leaving], and increasing revenue from the sale of services over the network, like video on demand," she said.
"It also helps get in the government's good books, which could be useful for lobbying, particularly if it is after funding for rollouts with other partners, although this is more of a secondary benefit, rather than a core reason for the upgrades."
The announcement was indeed welcomed by prime minister David Cameron who said it would help further improve the UK's digital infrastructure and provide a welcome boost for both consumers and businesses.
"Rolling out superfast broadband across the country is a critical part of our plan to upgrade the UK's infrastructure and build a new and smarter economy," he said.
The government has stated on several occasions that it hopes to create the best broadband market in Europe by 2015 and developments by Virgin and BT are seen as key, as both firms battle for supremacy in the broadband market.
BT announced last year that it will launch an Openreach service providing speeds of 110Mbit/s, as well as launching a 300Mbit/s service.
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