Virgin Media plans on upgrading its broadband infrastructure to full fibre, starting in early 2022. Here’s everything you need to know.
The investment will create 500 jobs and potentially provide homes and businesses with speeds of up to 10,000Mbps or 10Gbps!
Before we delve into the finer details, here’s a reminder on what fibre broadband is and why it’s so important...
What is fibre broadband?
Fibre broadband is considered the gold standard of broadband. It uses a high-speed fibre optic cable for all of the connection and doesn’t rely on old, copper telephone lines for any of the network.
It’s sometimes called fibre-to-the-home broadband as a fibre optic cable comes all the way into your home.
Fibre broadband can currently provide speeds of up to 1,000Mbps (1Gbps) in Ireland and is far faster, quicker and more reliable than other types of broadband.
Fibre broadband is currently being rolled out by Eir nationwide and also SIRO - a joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone. It was just last week that SIRO announced it will be significantly expanding its network to customers around the country.
The National Broadband Plan is also rolling out its own fibre network to rural towns and areas that are not covered by any other provider.
Having an expansive, top-quality, fibre broadband network is imperative in the digital age and for attracting jobs and talent to Ireland. It’s also important as more of us work and study from home and need a proper connection to Zoom, Skype, download documents and access webinars.
Nevertheless, many homes in Ireland, especially in rural areas, still struggle with bad connections.
What’s been announced?
Virgin Media says it’s to invest €200 million in its network nationwide to allow it to provide even faster broadband speeds to households and businesses all over the country.
Speeds of up to 10Gbps will be possible, it says, 10 times faster than what’s currently available with either Virgin or anyone else.
Exact details around pricing and the types of deals it will offer have yet to be announced. But we’ll have all the info when they are.
The Virgin network currently passes around 1 million homes and premises nationwide - mainly in larger towns and cities. And while it continues to gradually increase the size of its network, this investment will focus on upgrading its existing network.
Also, for the first time, Virgin Media has said that it intends to provide wholesale access to third parties, meaning other companies will be able to sell broadband packages to customers using Virgin Media’s network. This is similar to what Eir does - in many parts of the country Sky and Vodafone’s broadband uses the Eir network, for example.
This should further increase the competition and the range of choice in the Irish broadband market, which can only be a good thing.
Didn’t Virgin Media already have fibre?
Virgin Media has long been recognised as having the fastest and most reliable broadband network in Ireland.
Its current basic broadband package provides speeds of up to 250Mbps and its top-tier package already provides speeds of up to 1Gbps - similar to other fibre broadband providers.
However, technically its network isn’t 100% fibre as it relies on coaxial cable for a small part of the journey into people’s homes. This type of cable can provide greater bandwidth than (copper) telephone lines and so can provide significantly faster download speeds than other non-fibre broadband providers.
However Virgin’s investment will mean that it can market itself as a pure fibre broadband provider and it will also future proof its network for the coming decades. Because while a 1Gbps connection will far surpass most households’ needs for now, as more and more of our lives revolve around the internet and smart homes become a reality, we’ll need ever-increasing speeds and bandwidth.
"At Virgin Media we’re committed to innovating for our customers and investing in Ireland’s long-term digital future,"
"We’re now accelerating the evolution of our network by building out full fibre to more than one million Irish homes and businesses over the next 3 years", Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media.
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Let’s hear from you
Are you a Virgin Media customer? What do you think of this announcement? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.