Last month we reported that Virgin Media (VMO2) had started trials in three cities to test its UK plan to upgrade existing network areas based on Hybrid Coaxial Fiber (HFC) with Fiber-to broadband. -the-Premises (FTTP) – using XGS-PON technology (here). The good news is that we now know the names of these three places.
Currently, around 14.3 million Virgin Media premises in the UK are covered by their legacy HFC infrastructure, while just over one million can access their most recent FTTP network. But as we first reported in July 2021, VMO2 has a plan to upgrade these HFC zones to symmetrical speed FTTP broadband by the end of 2028, using XGS-PON technology (here).
Using the company’s existing fully ducted network (i.e. the tubes through which the fiber optic cables can be laid), the cost of delivery is expected to be approximately Â£ 100 per local spent. But that excludes the usual final installation costs (after placing an order), which we think could be between around Â£ 50 and Â£ 100.
However, before it started, VMO2 decided to conduct a trial run with 50,000 households, which we just confirmed is now underway in three locations: Feed, Salisbury and Wakefield. The trials currently appear to be well advanced and more information should be published as part of the operator’s next financial results (expected in early 2022).
The decision to include Salisbury is interesting because in recent years this city has also been quite closely involved in Openreach’s various all-IP network transition trials and FTTP deployment. VMO2 might well want to see what kind of impact their XGS-PON deployment is having on customer dynamics and competition in these areas, as well as the migration challenges it can pose for existing subscribers, among others.