Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer, Virgin Media O2
Late last year, we announced an important milestone in the evolution of our broadband services when we began trialling state-of-the-art XGS-PON technology on our live full-fibre network. These trials proved successful so now we are taking the next step forward in our network evolution and starting to sell services powered by the latest fibre technology, known as XGS-PON, much more widely.
For existing customers or consumers in areas where our network is already available, this won’t mean any change. They’ll continue to benefit from broadband that is five times faster than the UK average, alongside brilliant TV bundles and phone services. But for those living in areas where we’ve recently expanded our network or will do very soon, they’ll gain access to our services for the first time and their connections will be powered by this new technology.
XGS-PON will initially underpin our broadband services using nexfibre’s new full-fibre network, which will cover 5 million homes by 2026 with the option of reaching a total of 7 million homes beyond that. With Virgin Media O2 acting as a build supplier and wholesale customer of the network, this £4.5bn investment from nexfibre – which is owned by our shareholders, Liberty Global and Telefónica, alongside investment firm, InfraVia Capital Partners – will see Virgin Media O2’s fibre footprint reach 80% of the UK when coupled with our own fibre upgrade plans which complete in 2028.
With fibre build already well underway, today this investment means residents in towns and cities across the UK are now able to sign up to our gigabit broadband for the first time, and this marks a major moment for the nexfibre team as customers can now start connecting to its network all while build ramps up.
While the technology used to power these customers’ home broadband connections will be new, the products and services on offer will be familiar to many. We’ll be offering broadband with the same look and feel as the rest of our network, as well as the option to add features like our latest connected entertainment service, Stream.
So why does any of this matter? Our network can already deliver ultrafast 1.1Gbps speeds and beyond, meaning that it’s fast enough to handle everything that customers want to do right now and in the near future. However, with customers using more and more data each year – with total data use on our network increasing by more than 10% last year – demand is only going in one direction. To keep offering customers the reliable and seamless services they expect long into future, we’re ensuring that we’re ready to deal with whatever comes next.
In the long term, XGS-PON and fibre connections will provide customers with even more bandwidth as the technology enables symmetrical upload and download speeds. This means that customers will have the ability to upload as quickly as they download, at speeds of up to 10Gbps. With so many breakthroughs happening in the technology space right now, from the metaverse and generative AI to mixed reality applications and immersive gaming, this connectivity will enable future new technologies and applications to flourish.
Consumers and businesses won’t be the only winners as we roll out this technology more widely: the planet is set to benefit, too. XGS-PON uses a passive optical network so energy consumption will be lower in future. This will help us deliver our ambitious net zero goals that supports better outcomes for customers, communities and the planet.
Work to evolve our network never stops, and everyday households across the country gain access to our award-winning and fully gigabit broadband. With network innovation and investment unlocking faster and ever-more reliable services for customers, we’re entering a golden era for fixed connectivity and planning for the decades ahead. Today is a key moment in that journey.