By Marcus Leach

Virgin Media is to begin testing internet speeds of up to 1.5Gb in east London. Using Virgin Media’s unique cable network, the trials will begin this month in partnership with four companies in the vicinity of Old Street in London, dubbed the ‘Silicon Roundabout’.

The 1.5Gb download and 150Mb upload service will use the same infrastructure and technology as Virgin Media currently uses to provide residential customers with the country’s fastest home broadband.

If successful, this will be the world’s fastest cable connection and more than 240 times faster than the national average broadband. Similar technology tests have already proven the capability of cable to deliver download speeds of 1Gb.

Each of the companies taking part in the trial is involved in the creative industries, working extensively with video for online and mobile streaming, producing interactive applications for the web and bespoke broadcasting services for live programmes and events.

Virgin Media’s future-proofed infrastructure will mean that consumers accessing speeds of 1Gb or more, will be able to access even more interactive entertainment and services such as remote healthcare and online education, without the need to travel. As the pace of technological change increases, they will also be in the best position to enjoy web services yet to be invented.

These superfast speeds are possible because of the £13 billion of private investment made by Virgin Media which means that every cable home is connected to a state-of-the-art fibre optic network by a high-grade coaxial line. By contrast BT’s infrastructure remains reliant on copper telephone wiring, or in some cases even more inferior aluminium, which was never intended to supply broadband. This will not change for the overwhelming majority of homes eventually offered Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) services from other providers.

The DOCSIS3 technology used throughout Virgin Media’s network provides a future-proofed platform with theoretically near infinite capacity. Virgin Media is able to bond multiple downstream and upstream channels together to be used at the same time by a single subscriber to deliver faster speeds. DOCSIS 3.0, the current standard used throughout Virgin Media’s network, also incorporates support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said: “Demand for greater bandwidth is growing rapidly as more devices are able to connect to the internet and as more people go online simultaneously. Our growing network provides a highly competitive alternative to the fastest fibre networks of the future and, with our ongoing investment plans, we can anticipate and meet demand as it develops over time, ensuring Virgin Media business and residential customers continue to enjoy world-class broadband.”