Virgin Media has announced that residents of the Welsh village of Crumlin, Caerphilly, will be the first in the United Kingdom to trial ultrafast broadband delivered over existing electricity poles. Following a landmark agreement with Surf Telecoms, a Western Power Distribution company, homes in the village of Crumlin will be connected directly to Virgin Media’s fiber optic network, effectively increasing local broadband speeds ten-fold in a community that has previously relied on BT’s copper infrastructure. In addition to high-speed Internet, villagers will be offered Virgin Media’s TV service, including around 5,000 hours of catch up TV and on demand content. The trial will start next month and is scheduled to run into 2011.
Virgin Media began trialing aerial deployment in the Berkshire village of Woolhampton in March this year using purpose-built infrastructure. The trials are part of Virgin Media’s efforts to expand its network and identify ways of bringing next generation digital services to people who live in rural or harder to reach areas of the UK. Initial analysis suggests that ‘non-traditional’ approaches of the kind being explored in Crumlin and Woolhampton could, with some focused measures from government, significantly accelerate delivery of next generation broadband to millions of extra homes right across the UK.