A group of villages in Hampshire will be the first rural area to receive Virgin’s ultrafast fibre optic broadband, in a move to further rival the Openreach network.
A lengthy campaign which involved 1,000 people not only registering their interest in acquiring the network, but formally agreeing to sign up once it has been installed, has successfully brought Virgin to the area. The company, founded by Richard Branson in 1970, started work in the Dun Valley region today.
Virgin will consider connecting any area in the country to their network if enough interest is generated, but this usually comes with the problem that the smaller an area is, the less densely populated it also is.
Those residing in rural areas have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of access to ultrafast internet, and even just a substantial connection – with some households receiving speeds of less than 1Mbps. This roll-out by Virgin brings a new hope, providing the possibility for those in less-densely populated areas to have fast internet.
Up until very recently, there were few alternatives if you were unable to access the Openreach network, used by BT and most other internet service providers. However, EE have provided somewhat of a solution. They have developed a router that utilises the 4G network to provide internet access. So in theory, if there is a good EE phone signal in an area, no matter how remote, you will be able to have decent internet access.
They offer monthly and yearly plans, but clinically do not have unlimited usage in any of them. There packages offer speeds up to 100Mbps with usage up to 200GB, which will still leave some desperate for quicker speeds with unlimited usage.
Although the Dun Valley case is purely just a test to see whether it is financially sustainable to further role the network out to rural areas, this may prove to be a huge step to a broadband revolution. With Openreach largely failing to connect rural areas to internet speeds that Ofcom would deem acceptable, Virgin have the potential to swoop in and play the night-in-shining-armour role. Success with this initiative will prompt more rural communities to reach our directly to Virgin and ask to be connected.
Virgin have been progressively challenging Openreach, who dominate the market at present, for the last few years. With an independent network, Virgin can offer speeds to all those connected by their network of up to 350Mbps. This blows the fastest fibre packages of those providers on the Openreach network (BT, Sky, TalkTalk, PlusNet etc.) out of the water, with their quickest being 76Mbps. BT are now making 300Mbps speeds widely available, but at present this is for a select few, so Virgin remain the most accessible option for high internet speeds.
A relatively new company, Hyperoptic, have also recently changed the broadband industry with the speeds that they can offer. Again, their availability is extremely limited right now, with only those in large urban areas (if then) having access to their 1GB speed internet. Hyperoptic is in the process of rolling their all fibre optic broadband network out, with primarily large blocks of flats benefitting from their installs at the moment.
Is the future ultrafast?
With government backing, industry regulator has pushed forward a motion to legally ensure suppliers provide speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020. Whether this actually comes to fruition or not by this imposed deadline is another matter, but the fact that Virgin are helping to supply rural areas now means that Openreach may buck up their ideas and begin to expand their fibre optic broadband to more areas.
Project manager of this initiative, Rob Evans implied that this is the first of many.
‘This has been a brilliant example of us working hand in hand with the local community to deliver a solution which works for us both.
‘We look forward to doing more of these in the future.’
Interested in getting Virgin’s ultrafast broadband?
Want to start your own campaign to get Virgin to your area? Register your interest here.
If you feel that Virgin may already be in your area, feel free to get in touch. We can check if it is, sort you out with our affiliate discount and have you set up with their broadband with one short (and free) phone call. Just get in touch with one of our expert advisors to discuss anything of your broadband options, Virgin-related or not!