12th December 2022: Virgin Media O2 has today announced a host of network upgrades, investment and digital inclusion initiatives across Yorkshire, supporting the home of the UK’s fastest growing digital industry2. The company continues to invest billions of pounds in upgrading the UK to help communities remain connected, which has resulted in job creation and partnerships with City Councils to support local digital programmes.
Yorkshire now has next gen 5G coverage provided by Virgin Media O2 reaching over 50% of the population across 100 locations, including Leeds, York, Sheffield and Wakefield. Access to superfast network speeds and capacity means residents can better stream their favourite TV shows and movies, work remotely and on the go, video call friends and family and play games online.
With recent Virgin Media O2 research showing 85% of Northerners believe access to the internet is essential to living their life3, the company has also invested in significantly upgrading its 4G network, the backbone of mobile connectivity around the country. Over 61,000 postcodes have been upgraded across Yorkshire, including 13700 postcodes in North Yorkshire, 15,200 in South Yorkshire, 25,700 in West Yorkshire and 6,400 in East Riding of Yorkshire1.
Virgin Media O2 has continued to act on its pledge to invest over £10 billion pounds to upgrade the UK, with over £188 million spent across Yorkshire in recent years. Through the company’s Project Lightning programme, ultrafast broadband has been made available to over 324,000 additional homes and businesses in the region. That includes 24,500 premises in North Yorkshire, 128,600 in South Yorkshire and 171,100 in West Yorkshire. The investment has seen over 900 jobs either created or secured, as well as additional contracts with local firms, to help build the required infrastructure to keep the region connected.
Virgin Media O2 also kicked off trials last month in Skipton, North Yorkshire, to switch on state-of-the-art XGS-PON technology on its live full-fibre network for a few hundred lucky recipients. XGS-PON is a new standard of passive optical networks which enables data to be sent and received over fibre optic cables, supporting multi-gigabit and symmetrical broadband speeds, as well as more reliable connections, in the future.
The telecoms company signed a barrier busting charter with Sheffield City Council in 2020 to unlock further digital investment. This paved the way for over 24,000 premises to be added to its network in the city, and Virgin Media O2 continues to further expand its network with the charter providing clarity and opportunities for both the council and company to work together in bringing investment to the City.
Virgin Media O2 also continues to work with digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, based in Sheffield, on digital inclusion programmes aiming to improve the digital skills and confidence of two million people by the end of 2025.
Virgin Media O2 is trialling the National Databank, which is like a foodbank but for free mobile data, texts, and calls at the O2 store in Hull (Jameson Street), which is offering 20GB of free O2 data per month for six months to help people most affected by the cost-of-living crisis to get online.
Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “Virgin Media O2 is committed to bringing the best experience and seamless connectivity to all its customers around the UK. Through our investment, employment, collaboration with local authorities and continued support in local communities, we’re proud to be connecting residents and businesses across Yorkshire and playing our part in helping it continue to be the fastest growing digital industry in the UK”.
Notes to Editors
1 Postcode upgrades & expansion from November 2021 to October 2022.
2 Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Digital ecosystems report.
3 Research 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.
About Virgin Media O2
Virgin Media O2 launched on 1 June 2021, combining the UK’s largest and most reliable mobile network with a broadband network offering the fastest widely-available broadband speeds. It is a customer-first organisation that brings a range of connectivity services together in one place with a clear mission: to upgrade the nation. Virgin Media O2 is the corporate brand of the 50:50 joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica SA, and one of the UK’s largest businesses.
The company has 47 million UK connections across broadband, mobile, TV and home phone. Its own fixed network currently passes 15.7 million premises alongside a mobile network that covers 99% of the nation’s population with 4G, and more than 450 towns and cities with 5G services targeting 50% population coverage in 2023.