An investigation by the BBC's Watchdog programme has found that Virgin Media is under-delivering on broadband speed, with some customers receiving 'only a fraction' of what they had signed up for - just 3 per cent, in some cases.
Watchdog accused Virgin of taking on too many customers in some regions, leading to 'issues relating to "over-utilisation."' Customers in those areas were finding it difficult to perform simple broadband tasks, such as streaming video.
For its part, Virgin said that it was 'disappointed' that it had fallen short of its own standards. CEO Tom Mockridge apologised to Virgin's customers and said, "All of our sales agents have been re-briefed on the company's sales policy, and we are providing additional training to ensure everyone complies with it."
Getting the government involved
The BBC's findings come at a pertinent time. The UK government this week launched a £400 million scheme called the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, in order to drive the country towards a shift to full fibre. That means committing to rollouts of fibre-to-the-home/premises (FTTH/FTTP), rather than the more common fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC). In FTTC deployments, signals are carried by fibre to the nearest street cabinet and then by copper over the remaining distance, which drastically limits speeds.
It is expected that the public sector investment will be more than matched by private sector funding, meaning a total of over £1 billion will go to the fibre industry. The government has said that it hopes to 'ignite interest from private finance to invest in the sector, resulting in more alternative providers entering and expanding in the market.'
One of those alternative providers, CityFibre, recently proposed a major expansion of its FTTP service on the back of a planned £185 million funding round.
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