May 12, 2008

Virgin making room for faster broadband...and more HD?

Confirmation that Virgin Media is (finally) turning off the legacy analogue cable network is probably the best news VM has announced in many a moon. Full story here and further details here, both reports from Digital Spy.
Virgin Chief Executive Neil Berkett talked at some length to investors last week about the upgrade plans for the network and the imminent demise of the analogue network:
"Relatively modest investment in customer equipment and [headend] ports for channel bonding is required to do this and is included in our current capital expenditure guidance.
"Next year our 20Mbps and 50Mbps customers will move to the DOCSIS 3.0 platform. This will significantly improve the quality of service provided to all our customers, as the 2Mbps and 10Mbps customers will have more bandwidth specifically dedicated to them. This will help push real world delivery speeds as close as possible to the advertised headline speeds.
"We currently only use two 8Mhz channels to serve all our broadband customers. For DOCSIS 3.0 this will be tripled. Each additional channel will be freed up by switching off a single analogue channel.
"Clearly it will not be long before we are in a position to switch off analogue completely, and this will free up significant bandwidth for even higher broadband speeds. We could easily provide 100Mbps if we chose to do so. We have a huge broadband advantage over competing technologies for speed quality, reliability and cost."
So far, so good. Personally, I'm happy with 20Mbps of broadband (when I get it - not as reliable as it used to be but hopefully that will improve as part of the upgrade). But this ain't just about broadband as releasing the bandwidth of the old analogue network will open up opportunities for more TV services too...including high definition linear channels and more on demand content. C4 HD? ITV HD? Sky basics in HD? If bandwidth's not an issue we could well see the former at least soon (even if Sky is a bit of a pipedream still).
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Berkett's recent presentation on the Q1 results doesn't make a single mention of current high definition services, let alone future ones. It's a big gap - when Sky execs talk about the future of their service, it's all HD-this and HD-that. With Virgin, not a word.
But things are moving, and hopefully in a positive direction for every Virgin Media customer. On past experience I wouldn't recommend holding your breath just yet for more HD, but a more efficient network is good for all. Let's just hope Berkett and VM take full advantage of it and don't put all of their eggs - and our money - into just the broadband basket.

1 comment:

Dazza said...

Brillant news..should have been ages ago.
Possible more Linear HD Hmmmm that would be great and also help VM battle with sky as a serious contender to not having a dish to view TV.
Im holding my breath and also suing scuba diving air tanks filled with oxygen as it might be a long wait.