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Virgin plans 50Mbps for rural areas over telegraph pole

updated 09:25 am EST, Thu March 11, 2010

Virgin trials fiber Internet, TV for UK villages

Virgin Media today outlined plans to test one of the fastest rural Internet services available. The trial, in the UK village of Woolhampton, would use existing telegraph poles to link the area directly to Virgin's fiber optic network. It would give the residents the same 50Mbps access as those in larger towns without having to bury lines or relying on the existing, DSL-only BT network.

The test would also bring Virgin's TV services, including about 5,000 hours of "catch-up" TV episodes and other on-demand video. Testing starts later this month and should last for half a year. The company didn't say how soon more widespread service would be available if the trial is successful.

Virgin's test is being made possible in part by a change in attitude by the British government to rules surrounding the deployment of wired access in the country. Officials are considering loosening guidelines to more readily allow overhead lines, which should be less expensive and less disruptive to add than underground cables. Over 1 million homes outside of urban areas could stand to benefit, the telecom firm estimates.

The absence of such relatively easy overhead fiber has contributed in part to the lack of high-speed Internet access in the rural US. Multiple major American providers have often sharply resisted any government mandates to build out their access to these areas as they have claimed that the revenue they would get from the small number of customers wouldn't be enough to offset the original cost of expansion. An upcoming national broadband plan from the FCC may change this as it may help subsidize the up-front costs.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. dliup

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006


    "over telegraph pole"

    I hope it meant over TELEPHONE poles. Telegraph haven't been used for decades...

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    If the poles exist, no sense not using them. And I'm sure the people will be thrilled at the low cost and high speed. Up until a branch brings down a line, and they start whining about how they lost their precious internet and all these things should be run underground (h***, that's what they do in the US!).

  1. MisterMe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2007


    two comments ...

    @ testudo Once again, you give unimpeachable evidence that you have not a clue what you are talking about. Your swipe at Americans who live in the rural is both mean-spirited and factually wrong. We are a self-reliant bunch who are used to loss of utilities--particularly electrical power. When we lose power, we call the power company to send notice of the outage and wait patiently for power to be restore. If we lose phone service, those of us who don't have mobile phones drive to a nearby friend, neighbor, or business that has working phone service and notify our phone company of the disruption. Long story short my snarky friend, we do not whine. It is not in our nature.

    To the issue of the lack of available optical fiber in the US, my information is just a bit different. To be specific, unused and under-used optical fiber known as "dark fiber" is an major problem here. It is a problem because the fiber has been laid down and buried and not providing return on investment for the companies that buried it. One has to wonder about the quality of Electronista's information.

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