Virgin makes gigabit internet available across its service

Company says it will have the most extensive gigabit-capable network in Ireland

A 1 gigabit connection will allow users to download a high definition film in a matter of seconds. Photograph: Getty

A 1 gigabit connection will allow users to download a high definition film in a matter of seconds. Photograph: Getty

 

Virgin Media is making gigabit internet available to almost 1 million homes across the country as it switches on the service throughout its network.

The company said the launch would give it the most extensive gigabit-capable network in Ireland. Virgin is following Eir and Vodafone/Siro into the gigabit internet market, but the company has chosen to enable it across the whole network at once, making the service available to just under one million households, and 97.5 per cent of the premises across Virgin Media’s network.

A 1 gigabit connection will allow users to download a high definition film in a matter of seconds, or handle large files, even with multiple devices using the connection simultaneously.

Paul Higgins, vice-president of commercial at Virgin Media, said the move would be “transformative” for the telecoms landscape.

“We believe it’s the right thing to do, to do it for everyone,” he said. “It underlines the investment we’ve made. I think it’s fair to say it has been a continued and committed investment. It’s in excess of €1 billion to date.”

To get the service, customers will need Virgin Media’s updated router, the V2. The broadband service will cost €85 a month on a 12-month contract.

The move comes as the Government’s restrictions to help slow the spread of coronavirus force more people to return to working from home.

Increased usage

The company said it had seen a significant increase in usage of its network since March, when the restrictions were first introduced. Mr Higgins said data usage was up 40 per cent over the period and, over the first 10 weeks of lockdown, households subscribed to Virgin Media’s broadband downloaded over 50 per cent more data per day on average.

“We always committed to invest,” Mr Higgins said. “We always fronted up to that investment around capacity, infrastructure and innovation. They all have a natural roadmap. We’ve bided our time, we’ve made sure we’ve done it in the right way. It probably makes sense for us to do it now.”

Broadband is also expected to play a large role in economic growth. The European Commission’s Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society strategy recommends all European households should have access to 30Mbps connections by 2020 and 100 Mbps by 2025.

Research from international management consulting firm, Arthur D Little, estimates the widespread ability of gigabit speeds will spur innovation to deliver €250-€660 billion of economic value a year in Europe by 2025.