Virgin launches 50Mb broadband


Virgin Media has launched a new broadband service that offers up to 50Mb that promises to “transform” the home internet market.

The new service gives customers nearly nine times the average headline broadband speed in the UK using Virgin Media’s fibre optic cable network. The new service costs £51 a month.

Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, says: “As the first internet service provider to roll out next-generation broadband access, our 50Mb service represents the dawning of a new era of high-speed services in the UK and is just the beginning of what we hope to offer our customers over the coming years.

“This service will transform the way people interact and entertain themselves online and will provide a broadband experience that is truly world class.”

Virgin Media says the 50Mb service will allow users to download an entire music album in as little as 11 seconds, a TV show in around one minute, a high quality movie in three minutes and a high definition movie in around 15 minutes.

The launch puts Virgin Media ahead of the game in the broadband sector; although it has a 20% to 25% market share, the majority of broadband customers get their internet access from providers using copper wires that are served by local telephone exchanges.

Michael Philips, of, says for non-Virgin Media users the broadband speed they receive tends to be slower than the one advertised.

“The average broadband speed is 3.6Mb but the average advertised speed is 8Mb – clearly this is a mis-match,” he adds. “The reason for this industry-wide problem is the lack of investment in core networks.”

The distance you live from your local telephone exchange, as well as the amount of investment your internet service provider has made, will all impact on the broadband speed you currently enjoy.

Philips recommends doing a postcode check to find out how fast your broadband speed is. You can use websites such as to find out which providers offer the quickest speed in your local area.

“Changing provider is the best way to increase your broadband speed,” says Philips.

Although Virgin Media is unique in using its fibre optic cables, other providers are upping their game and offering faster broadband connections. Sky and O2 offer 16Mb and 20Mb respectively, while Be There advertises up to 24Mb.

So should everyone be switching to Virgin Media’s service? Not necessarily, says Philips: “The new 50Mb service from Virgin Media is expensive and is limited to around 10% of its customers and an even smaller percentage of the UK broadband population until the rapid rollout in 2009."

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