Virgin Media is taking its 50 Mbps broadband service above ground with a trial using telegraph poles. The Berkshire village of Woolhampton has been selected for the trial that will run for approximately six months. In addition to the broadband service, villages will also be offered Virgin’s digital TV service, including 5,000 hours of catch-up TV.
The trial is part of plans by Virgin Media to bring next generation services to people outside the range of fibre optic networks. Virgin’s 12.6 million homes passed represents a little over half of the UK and the operator has identified around one million homes that could benefit from deployment on telegraph poles. UK cable has traditionally involved digging up the streets, but other markets, such as Ireland, have used telegraph poles to take cable service overhead.
The Government is currently considering a change to planning guidelines, which would be needed for a large-scale overhead deployment to be realised. An earlier trial, begun in Cornwall in 2009, too next generation services to the villages of Hat and Saltash by running underground fibre optic cable to BT’s local street cabinets.
Virgin Media believes the use of overhead poles as well as underground ducts could, in some cases, significantly improve the viability of delivering services to rural communities and further increase coverage.