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Virgin take on Openreach in rural Dun Valley

Virgin rescue thousands from Openreach 2Mbps in rural Dun Valley

In spite of government initiatives, Ofcom directives and Openreach promises, thousands of Brits still endure cripplingly slow broadband connections.

For the people of Test and Dun Valley in Hampshire, their unlikely saviour from bad broadband was Virgin Media.

Although Virgin’s cable connections are typically saved for dense urban areas, under “Project Lightning” the company is spending £3 billion to bring better broadband to the places that need it most.

I feel the need…

A community broadband activist group called Need4Speed first approached Virgin Media in 2016.

Representing 12 villages in the area, Need4Speed approached Virgin to apply for connections.

To make the project commercially viable, more than 1000 residents had to commit to broadband contracts with Virgin before any work began, as well as pay a moderately reduced connection fee of £300 each.

Residents will also have to pay installation fees between £40 and £99 and an activation fee of £20 to get connected.

This is a new way of delivering our gigabit-ready network... 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.

- Rob Evans: Managing Director, Virgin Media Project Lightning

Virgin challenge Openreach rural style

The work around the River Test is Virgin testing the waters of rural broadband viability.

If the company can profit from this little corner of the country, we could see even more investment and growth in Virgin’s UK network.

According to their own reports, Virgin Media has installed more broadband in the past two years than all of its competitors combined.

Virgin’s speeds trump the best that Openreach can deliver, and are up to 200 times faster than the worst.

Also worth noting is that Virgin, unlike Openreach, has no government-mandated obligation to bring superfast broadband to rural areas.

The people of Dun Valley may be happy to pay out for Virgin’s premium service, but that should not be expected to escape 2Mbps speeds.

By:

Samuel Newman is a consumer journalist and blogger based in Sheffield.
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