Virgin Media broadband hits UK

Virgin Media launched its broadband service Monday, reaching 50 Mbps (megabits per second), a speed 10 times faster than the average UK speed of 5 Mbps. The increased speed will allow high-definition (HD) television, online gaming, and multi-room teleconferencing.

The broadband service will be available for £51 ($77) a month, and Virgin expects to have it available to 12 million customers by the end of next summer. For now, the company is working on making it available to 40 percent of its customers by the end of 2008.

Virgin Media chief executive Neil Berkett said, “As the first ISP to roll out next-generation broadband access, our 50Mbps 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.”

Virgin’s network is a combination of fiber-optics and cable. While the cross country network is fiber, the connections to customer’s home televisions is coaxial, making it hard to maintain the pure fiber-optic speeds available.

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