Virgin Media have announced that their new fibre network will be capable of providing speeds of up to 200mbps, two years before rival BT. Virgin currently offers a top broadband speed of 50mbps, but CEO Neil Berkett told the BBC that he would be ‘surprised’ if they didn’t start upping speeds by as early as next year.
BT’s rival fibre network is set to be complete by 2012, with the service being accessible to areas including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Greater Manchester from 2010. Despite BT’s projections that they will be offering 40-60mbps broadband by 2012, Berkett believes that Virgin Media will be in a much stronger position.
“If BT were to meet the time frame they have suggested - of finishing by 2012 - I would see us as having much, much faster upstream speed, running at a minimum of 100Mbps downstream and possibly more. You can see a real opportunity there.” He told the BBC.
However, despite the tantalising claims, web-savvy readers need not hold their breath just yet. Mr Berkett admitted that although the new fibre network will be capable of offering speeds of over 150mbps, it would all come down to ‘a function of timing’.
“When we look at the market I don’t see us getting the returns right now for 100 or 150Mbps. As we work with application providers, and content providers… there will be a natural point where we upgrade from 10, 20 and 50Mbps to something more. “He explained.
With BT offering their fibre network to Internet Service Providers on a wholesale basis, Burkett revealed Virgin Media would consider opening its own network, which currently reaches half of the UK, to wholesale in the future.
“We had this conversation with a bunch of investors recently. Our position is ‘Let’s prove the market’. Wholesaling is not off our agenda but right now it is not a priority for us.”
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