Fiber Price War Comes Home in UK

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Virgin Media, the UK’s first quad-play provider of broadband, TV, phone and mobile, today announced it would begin the roll-out of a 100Mb broadband service, the fastest available commercial product in the UK, by the end of 2010. All of Virgin’s existing 3.8 million cable broadband customers would be able to achieve 100 Mbps speed by 2011, should they choose to subscribe to the faster service, said a spokesman.

Virgin Media will offer 50 Mbps broadband in the UK for £28/month ($42/month).

Virgin Media is leveraging its fiber optic cable network, and claims to be the only mass-market provider of ultrafast speeds in the UK.

The company is one of the largest residential broadband providers in the UK, using fibre optic cable network to deliver internet access of up to 50Mb to just over half of all homes.

A British Telecom spokesman said, “Virgin are playing catch-up as customers are already using 100Mbps over BT’s network. It is fair to say we are bigger than them and we are growing faster too.” BT launched a 40 Mbps broadband service last month. BT says four million homes and businesses would be able to get their Infinity broadband service by 2011.

The basic 40Mbps service will be offered for £19.99 per month ($30/mo) on an 18 month contract. It will also charge an installation fee of £50 for those on the lowest tariff.

In the United States, Verizon’s FiOS is used by 12.7 million homes, of which 3.1 million subscribe to the Internet service and 2 million to FiOS TV. Verizon’s 50 Mbps Internet service is about four times more expensive than BT’s 40 Mbps service — about $140/month (£92/mo) vrs BT’s $30/month (£19.99) or Virgin Media’s 50 Mbps service — $42/month (£28/month).

Virgin Media has 4.1 million broadband customers, with most on cable broadband, and currently offers 10Mb, 20Mb and 50Mb services. Combined with a high speed ADSL service and mobile broadband products, Virgin Media is able to offer broadband internet access to virtually the entire country.

Of course consumers in the UK also have Freeview, with up to 50 digital TV channels and 24 radio stations with no subscription fee.

Virtually every household can receive dozens of DTV television broadcasts absolutely free. It’s available to some 18 million households in the UK with an inexpensive settop box.

Freeview HD is just getting started in the UK, but it is likely to grow with the FIFA World Cup scheduled to start in South Africa this June.

It rivals the 2008 Summer Olympics as the world’s largest sporting event.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 9:36 am .

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