Virgin Media O2 boosts fiber uplink speeds for SMEs

U.K. operator Virgin Media O2 offered a free uplink speed boost for small business customers using its Voom Fiber service in a move it pitched as allowing them to share files and access cloud applications faster.

The move comes shortly after Virgin Media and O2 completed a long-awaited merger earlier this month, and began operations as a combined company under the name Virgin Media O2. The new operator is one of the largest in the U.K., with 47 million broadband, mobile, TV and home phone connections and annual revenue of around £11 billion (approximately $15.3 billion).

Virgin Media O2 said in a press release upload speeds will increase from 7 Mbps to 20 Mbps on its entry level Voom Fibre 1 plan; double to 30 Mbps and 40 Mbps respectively on its Voom Fibre 2 and Voom Fibre 3 tiers; and jump from 35 Mbps to 50 Mbps on its premium Voom 500 plan. It noted more than 100,000 locations across the country are set to receive the higher speeds.

Jo Bertram, managing director for Business and Wholesale at Virgin Media O2, added in a statement the upgrade is “completely free” and designed to “help SMEs bounce back from the pandemic.”

During the height of Covid-19 last year, operators across the globe saw a jump in upstream traffic, as home-bound residents turned to video conferencing, online learning and gaming to keep work, school and entertainment flowing. U.S. operator AT&T recently noted demand for faster broadband – including in the uplink – has lingered into this year.

RELATED: Virgin Media sees a 95% upstream traffic spike due to COVID-19

When the combined company launched earlier this month, Virgin Media O2 CEO Lutz Schüler promised in a statement it would “shake up the market and be the competitor the country needs at a time when choice has never been more important,” adding “we’re here to upgrade the U.K. and our mission starts today.”

At the time, the company outlined plans to invest £10 billion (approximately $13.9 billion) over the next five years. On broadband more specifically, it said it would deliver gigabit speeds across its entire existing footprint by the end of 2021 and deploy fiber to “millions” of additional homes across the U.K.

RELATED: BT’s Openreach raises fiber goal to 25M premises by 2026

It is racing against U.K. rival BT, which recently upped its own fiber expansion target and is now aiming to reach 25 million premises by 2026.

Like Virgin Media O2, BT has homed in on serving small businesses, earlier this month creating a new Single/Small Office/Home Office (SoHo) business unit to cater to enterprises with nine or fewer employees.