Virgin Media O2 closes in on multi-gig goal with 2.2 Gbps trial

Virgin Media O2 is on course to double the broadband speeds available on its existing cable network, following a pair of real-world trials which delivered 2.2 Gbps.

The operator said in a press release the tests conducted in Edinburgh and Birmingham utilized DOCSIS 3.1 technology alongside Virgin Media O2’s Hub 4 router, which is offered as standard to customers taking its 1 Gbps service. The 2.2 Gbps download speeds were verified using measurement tools from broadband analytics company SamKnows.

According to U.K. telecom regulator Ofcom’s most recent Home Broadband Performance Report, the average speed of residential broadband services in the country stood at 50.4 Mbps as of March 2021. Cable connections provided an average speed of 111.1 Mbps, the report noted.

Jeanie York, Virgin Media O2’s CTO, said in a statement the operator is “always looking to go further and faster.” Its latest trials put “this commitment to innovation into action, demonstrating the true power of our network and getting ready for the technology of tomorrow,” she added.

In July, the operator announced plans to upgrade its entire network to full fiber-to-the-premises by 2028, but highlighted plans to “maintain and develop” its cable network capabilities in the interim. At the time, it specifically set a goal to deliver speeds of more than 2 Gbps. The DOCSIS 3.1 standard is capable of supporting download speeds of up to 10 Gbps, but it is unclear whether Virgin Media O2 will pursue upgrades beyond 2.2 Gbps given its planned fiber rollout.

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Over the past several months, Virgin Media O2 has been working to enable gigabit service across its entire network. As of August, speeds of 1.1 Gbps were available to more than 8 million homes, representing more than half of its 15.5 million-home footprint. By September that figure had jumped to 10 million, and earlier this month the operator said gigabit speeds were available to 12.8 million homes.