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Virgin Media to double broadband speeds

ISP will offer net connections of 'up to' 120Mbps

Virgin Media is to double the net connection speeds of four million of its broadband customers.

The ISP said the upgrade program will begin in February this year and those currently subscribed to 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 30Mbps and 50Mbps packages will see their speeds increased. Existing 10Mbps customers will be boosted to 20Mbps, those that currently have 20Mbps or 30Mbps packages will see speeds increased to 60Mbps while Brits on a 50Mbps service will achieve 100Mbps after the upgrade. Furthermore, Brits that purchase Virgin Media's 100Mbps service will also see their speed increased to 120Mbps, which according to the ISP, will ensure web users can download an entire music album in 4.4 seconds and a HD movie within five minutes. It is hoped hoped the roll out, which is free of charge, will be completed by mid-2013.

"The internet has become an integral part of our social, work and family lives, so we think our customers are going to love this," said Virgin Media chief executive officer, Neil Berkett.

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"As people are increasingly doing more online, and getting connected to the internet with lots of different devices, having a fast, reliable broadband service should not be a luxury. We want to make sure that consumers have access to the best value broadband service and that means a superfast connection."

Virgin Media also revealed it hopes the speed increase will go some way to helping achieve the government's plan to ensure the UK has the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I welcome this announcement from Virgin Media; it will provide a great boost for the economy and change the way many households, consumers and businesses use the internet".

"Rolling out superfast broadband across the country is a critical part of our plan to upgrade the UK's infrastructure and build a new and smarter economy."

The ISP believes the 120Mbps service will come into its own when several web users are connected to the net in one home at the same time.

"Faster broadband gives users greater bandwidth to cope with the demands of increasing numbers of internet connected devices," the ISP said.

Ernest Doku, broadband and technology expert at uSwitch.com, said the announcement is “a real breakthrough for the UK's broadband infrastructure, and a decisive step towards the country having a service that can compete with the best in Europe”.

“With the increasing prevalence of bandwidth-heavy services such as catch-up TV and internet ready devices including smartphones and tablets becoming commonplace, faster broadband speeds are becoming essential,” Doku said.

"However, it's worth bearing in mind that Virgin still only has roughly 20 percent of the UK broadband market, and without similar investment across the board there is a danger that a two tier broadband market will develop. We only hope that rural areas that have not yet seen fibre optic broadband installed are not forgotten in the bigger picture, and will see similar levels of investment and development, in order to prevent the gap between themselves and urban areas becoming even greater."


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