Virgin Media: Superfast broadband...from your electricity pole

Residents of Crumlin, Caerphilly, hold on to your, er, keyboards - because superfast broadband is coming your way courtesy of Virgin Media's fibre optic cabling and your existing electricity poles.

This will be the first time that an existing infrastructure has been used for a new broadband network. The provider has been trialling aerial cables in Woolhampton, Berkshire but that was deployed using a purpose built system. 

The trial in Crumlin will begin in August and last into 2011. Residents can expect to get speeds up to 50Mb and also have access to Virgin Media's TV packages as well.

The electricity poles being used are those of Surf Telecoms - part of the Western Power Distribution organisation. Richard Doble, design and policy manager for Surf Telecoms, explained how the trial could initiate a mass use of existing systems to deliver the superfast broadband the government (both previous and current) has been promising. He said:

“Western Power Distribution’s electricity infrastructure reaches over 2.5 million homes across South West England and South and West Wales and, with this trial, we’re exploring an innovative new approach that could bring ultrafast broadband to many customers for the first time.

"The possibilities of aerial deployment promise a valuable use of existing infrastructure and an interesting new commercial opportunity for utility companies. We’re pleased to be at the forefront of this innovation”.

Ofcom has also just reported that the average broadband speed in the UK is just 5.2Mbitps. With Virgin Media planning on 100Mb broadband in the near future, and Ofcom's report also labelling its service the most fair, the timing of Virgin Media's trial couldn't really have been better.



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