UK Internet service provider (ISP) Virgin Media is set to double the speed of its broadband service for more than four million customers, in a move that Prime Minister David Cameron declared as a “great boost” for the UK.
As the BBC reports, the upgrade is set to begin in February this year, and is expected to see the service’s top speed increase from 100Mbps to 120Mbps. However, those currently on lower speeds will benefit most, with the upgrade meaning that those signed up for 10Mbps will be boosted to 20Mbps, while those on 20Mbps and 30Mbps packages will be cranked up a notch to 60Mbps. Furthermore, customers currently receiving 50Mbps will be put on 100Mbps.
Whilst the £110m upgrade is due to kick-off imminently, the full roll-out isn’t expected to be complete until around the middle of next year (2013).
“I welcome this announcement from Virgin Media,” said David Cameron. “It will provide a great boost for the economy and change the way many households, consumers and businesses use the Internet. 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.”
UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously outlined the government’s vision for the UK to have the best broadband network in Europe by 2015, and back in November we reported on the government’s £100m investment plan to bring superfast broadband to 10 UK cities.
Last year BT, the UK’s biggest ISP, announced investment plans of its own, making £2.5bn available to help make fibre-optic broadband available to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2015, later making another £300m available to bring that target forward to 2014.
A Virgin Media spokesperson said that bandwidth usage limits would also be increased to cater for the subsequent increase in downloading due to faster speeds, whilst he noted that most customers wouldn’t notice the upgrades taking place.
It’s promising that we’re now seeing commitment coming from a number of quarters – including government and commercial – towards bringing faster Internet to the UK masses. And it can’t come quickly enough.