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Virgin trials 200Mbit/sec broadband

By Barry Collins

Posted on 6 May 2009 at 12:06

Virgin Media is set to pilot 200Mbit/sec broadband connections, doubling the speed of even the fastest fibre connections in the UK.

Limited pilots of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) by BT and others have delivered speeds of up to 100Mbit/sec.

However, Virgin is set to smash past that barrier by offering 100 lucky trialists in Ashford, Kent, 200Mbit/sec connections on its new DOCSIS3 network.

The blistering speeds are achieved by bonding together four of the 50Mbit/sec connections already available to Virgin's DOCSIS3 customers.

A spokesman for the company claims that the speeds could be stretched even further. "The technology is capable of bonding eight channels, to give speeds of up to 400Mbit/sec," the spokesman told PC Pro.

The hand-picked trialists will be formed of Virgin staff and tech-savvy customers who are already on Virgin's high-speed connections. "There won't be an open application process," the spokesman said. "It needs fairly adept technical skills - people who can give a high level of feedback on router settings that do and don't work, etc."

Virgin says the 200Mbit/sec pilot will be used to discover if there's a demand for such high-speed services, citing applications such as high-definition 3D TV-on-demand and home surveillance as potential uses.

However, the company warns that technology will have to catch up with such breakneck connections: there are no wireless routers capable of transmitting data at 200Mbit/sec, for example, and such speeds require a relatively high-end PC.

Virgin's spokesman says it will take "at least six to 12 months before we look at a potential rollout."

Virgin's newly-released financial report claims that 75% of the company's new customers are already enjoying connection speeds of 10Mbits/sec or faster.

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