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Virgin Media teams with Arris to trial 8.5Gbps broadband

Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media has teamed up with technology specialist Arris to launch an 8.5Gbps symmetrical broadband trial in Papworth, Cambridgeshire.

The six-month trial to 50 homes in the town uses an existing fibre-to-the-premises connection, with data transferred using Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) technology.

Virgin Media’s trial uses its existing fibre network in the area to provide download speeds that are 200 times faster than the UK average. Arris said that EPON s typically used to deliver up to 1Gbps speeds to UK homes, but Virgin Media has been working with it to trial new equipment and software to increase the speeds that its residential fibre network is capable of delivering.

“The time to deployment is impressive which underlines what can be done with the existing infrastructure,” said technology, media and telecom analyst Paolo Pescatore. “This represents the next step in Virgin Media’s network investment strategy.” “It is important to address the exponential growth in data traffic as people own more devices and are accessing a wide range of services. The biggest use case is video services which will proliferate due to HD, 4K and eventually 8K streams.. Beyond faster speeds, these moves will provide plentiful benefits for when 5G arrives to ensure there is enough backhaul capacity.”

Papworth is where Virgin Media first tested 1Gbps full fibre to the premises connectivity in 2014, and was also the original test site for the narrow trenching methodology that the company has used to minimise disruption and speed up deployment when laying new network cables.

Richard Sinclair, executive director of connectivity at Virgin Media, said: “As the UK’s fastest widely available broadband provider, we’re committed to making Britain faster and this trial pushes the boundaries of what’s possible. Whether it’s streaming UHD movies on Netflix, playing the latest games online or video conferencing, faster internet connections have changed our lives immeasurably over the past decade. As speed leaders, Virgin Media is not going to stand still; this trial is about looking ahead to the next decade and beyond. With the volume of our customers’ internet usage almost doubling every year, trials like this will ensure we have the capability to meet the demand of data-hungry services in the future – be that over cable or full fibre.”

Steve McCaffery, president, international sales and managing director, international business operations at Arris, said: “The world thought multi-gigabit speeds would only be for lab tests, businesses and governments. Thanks to the foresight and ambition of Virgin Media, cutting-edge Arris technologies are now in real people’s homes.”