17th August 2022: Virgin Media O2 has today announced a number of network initiatives and major upgrades across Scotland. The announcement was marked by a visit from Ivan McKee, the Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, who visited a dig site in Glasgow to follow the process of laying fibre cables to reach new homes in the area.
Virgin Media O2’s 5G coverage in Scotland now covers 58 towns and cities – each with over 50% population coverage – including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness and Perth. As part of this expansion, 37,000 postcodes across Scotland now have 5G coverage, with recent investment helping to expand the network by around a third in the last year alone. Newly deployed low band 5G spectrum is giving more people access to next generation network speeds and capacity and comes as studies show 5G could add £17bn to the Scottish economy, helping to create 160,000 jobs and 3,000 new businesses.
The converged telecommunications company has also invested to upgrade its 4G network, the backbone of mobile connectivity around the country. Across Scotland, capacity has been boosted in over 33,000 postcodes, including in Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Stirling, Perth, Inverness and Edinburgh. These come as the company continues to invest more than £10 billion pounds to upgrade the UK and drive forward the Scottish Government’s commitment to make Scotland a “truly digital nation”1.
In a boost to rural communities, Virgin Media O2 has upgraded its mobile infrastructure to provide new services as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme. A recent example of the impact this is making is on the Isle of Gigha, where residents and businesses now have access to faster and more reliable 4G services, improved network capacity and an enhanced mobile experience. Rural locations already benefitting from this improved mobile connectivity includes Pipers Scar, Tarbert, Braemar West, Loch Seaforth, Portachoillan, Kennacraig, Aline Lodge – Adrdovourlie and Benbecula – Market Stance.
With recent Virgin Media O2 research showing 84% of Scots wouldn’t be able to access essential services like medical appointments without access to the internet and 85% believing access to the internet is essential to living their life2, the company has pledged to further improve access to its next-generation services. Since 2015, it has invested around £180m to expand its network and bring ultrafast broadband to more than 330,000 Scottish homes and businesses, and following upgrade works completed last year, all 1.2 million premises on its network – covering half of the population – are now able to access gigabit broadband delivering speeds of 1.1Gbps.
Last year Virgin Media O2 announced its intention to upgrade its fixed network to full fibre to the premises (FTTP) by 2028; and just last month its shareholders, Liberty Global and Telefónica, alongside investment firm, InfraVia Capital Partners, announced a major investment of approximately £4.5bn with the creation of a new fibre joint venture. Up to 7 million premises will be passed with a new wholesale full fibre network representing a significant commitment to the UK and a boost to the nation’s digital economy at a crucial time.
To minimise the environmental impact of its fibre rollout, the company has successfully trialled the use of recycled aggregate while working with Glasgow City Council to expand its broadband network in Cranhill, Glasgow. The success of the trial, which saw the sustainably sourced materials undergo on-site testing and monitoring, paves the way for more expansive use of recycled materials in future. With more than 100,000 tonnes of aggregate used each year by Virgin Media O2’s Project Lightning network expansion programme, switching to recycled aggregate could save more than 450 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Initiatives such as this form part of the company’s recently announced sustainability strategy (the Better Connections Plan).
Business Minister Ivan McKee, said: “Investment by Virgin Media O2 across gigabit-capable broadband, 4G and 5G mobile coverage is helping improve digital connectivity. This includes provision of 4G on a number of our Scottish 4G Infill programme sites and significant investment in 5G, with coverage added to more than 28,000 post codes over the past year, including in Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness and Perth.
“Improving our digital infrastructure is critically important and will help build a more prosperous, resilient, equal and sustainable economy as part of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.”
Colin Rae, Head of Build for Scotland at Virgin Media O2, said: “Virgin Media O2 is driving forward the Scottish Government’s aspiration to make the country a world-class digital nation, turning ambition into action through continued investment to expand our gigabit network, 4G upgrades and 5G rollout.
“We’re dedicated to bringing the best experience and seamless connectivity to all our customers across Scotland, from the remote Isle of Gigha and Scottish Highlands, to the major cities, as we continue to upgrade the UK.”
Notes to Editors
2Research carried out in July 2022 by Strand with a sample of 1,012 nationally representative members of the UK public by age, gender and NUTs 1 region. All respondents were surveyed online.
All Postcode upgrades & expansion statistics from August 2021 to July 2022.