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Virgin Media's Project Lightning now at 1.8m connections. Just 2.2m to go before year's end, right?

And yes, broadband flinger appears to shift focus to hybrid

Virgin Media has reported adding 130,000 premises to its £3bn full-fibre Project Lightning connections in its second quarter, bringing the total to 1.8 million.

The business had originally planned to connect 4 million premises to speeds of 300Mbps by the end of 2019, but that aim appears to have been quietly dropped.

Instead it is now betting big on its hybrid fibre DOCSIS (data over cable service interface specification) 3.1 technology – pledging to connect up to 15 million homes to 1Gbps speeds by 2021.

No doubt this is in part a response to noises made from UK prime minister Boris Johnson that he wants full fibre by 2025. While DOCSIS 3.1 isn't a fibre product, it can achieve full-fibre speeds.

Virgin Media promises speeds of 1Gpbs to 15 million homes – all without full fibre


Mike Fries, chief exec of Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media, claimed the launch of 1Gbps speeds put the company "miles ahead of other UK operators".

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media, said: "With gigabit speeds launching this year and much more to come, we have rock-solid foundations in place and limitless ambition to seize the right opportunities to grow and give our customers more."

Meanwhile, the provider reported a revenue increase of 0.4 per cent to £1.279bn for the quarter. Operating income decreased from £73m to £29.3m for due to an increase in costs and "higher share-based compensation expense".

The firm also said it added 17,000 telephony and 5,000 broadband subscriptions. Its total number of internet subscribers is now 5,266,700.

Philip Carse, chief analyst at Megabuyte, noted that following the $21.3bn sale of Liberty's European assets to Vodafone, which closed at the end of July, Virgin Media is now by far Liberty's largest European cable company.

"As such, Liberty says that it is now focused on driving Virgin's strategic and financial value, with substantial opportunities for growth. For now, this appears to be coming primarily in the form of consumer price rises (average of 4.9 per cent from this autumn) and a commitment to rolling out 1Gbps broadband... with at least 1 million homes this year, replicating top end fibre to the premise speeds (though some service providers are talking of making 10Gbps available).

"However, there is so far no mention of an expansion in the existing Project Lightning network build programme, despite recent noises in an FT article." ®

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