Cable company Virgin Media has announced plans to spend £3bn extending its fibre broadband network to cover an additional four million additional premises.
The five year project will help the company close the gap with rival BT whose fibre network covers more premises than Virgin’s.
Virgin, which currently has five million customers, says the expansion will create 6,000 new jobs of which 1,000 would be apprenticeships.
CEO Tom Mockridge said: “Millions of homes and businesses will soon be able to benefit for the first time from broadband speeds at least twice as fast as those available from the other major providers.
“Consumers and business owners who want to make the switch to better broadband speeds now have an alternative; you can call on Virgin Media to ‘Cable My Street’.”
However Dan Howdle, telecoms expert and editor-in-chief of telecoms advice site Cable.co.uk says Virgin is limiting its investment to cities and major population centres and suggest today’s announcement will do little to help rural communities.
He commented: “The money will unlikely result in fast broadband for those who live in rural or difficult to reach communities. Rather, Virgin Media is playing catch-up to BT’s openreach network and as such will likely roll things out profit-end-first.”
Virgin’s expansion comes in the wake of increasing consolidation in the telecoms sector and is a defensive move to ensure it’s not squeezed by rivals using BT’s national Openreach network who can offer services across the UK.