In the first significant expansion of UK cable coverage this century, in the next few years Virgin Media is to connect around half a million more premises to its network - including 50,000 homes and businesses to be connected in 2009.

Virgin's network is currently in place to connect roughly half of premises nationwide. To maximise return on its investment, Virgin will target areas where little work needs to be done to lay cable.

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Without giving any details of where the new cable would be laid or how much it would cost, Virgin said it wants to expand wherever it's easy to do so.

It said that in the medium term this is likely to focus mainly on areas close to or inside current cable networks. A team is currently travelling the country assessing potential targets.

Virgin also said that in the long term it expects to further expand its network.