Virgin Trials Electricity Pole Broadband In Village

Virgin Media will soon start offering Welsh villagers the chance to get a broadband connection via electricity cables.

The firm has inked an agreement with local power company Surf Telecoms that will deliver ultrafast broadband over electricity poles. The trials will start in the village of Crumlin in Caerphilly, and will increase speeds by up to 10 times, Virgin Media said.

The local community had relied on BT, specifically its copper infrastructure, to provide broadband connections, and Virgin Media said that villagers can now use the Virgin Media television service and its 50Mbit/s broadband offering.

"Working in partnership with companies like Surf Telecoms we can more rapidly and efficiently expand the reach of fibre optic networks to towns, villages and communities right across the UK," said Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media.

The company is already running such a trial in the village of Woolhampton using its own telegraph poles to deliver the service.

Surf Telecoms is positive that the move has implications for the future, and has suggested that its existing infrastructure could be used elsewhere to provide alternatives to BT's copper systems.

"With this trial we're exploring an innovative approach that could bring ultrafast broadband to many customers for the first time," said Richard Doble, design and policy manager at Surf Telecoms.

"The possibilities of aerial deployment promise a valuable use of existing infrastructure, and an interesting new commercial opportunity for utility companies. We're pleased to be at the forefront of this innovation."

BT, meanwhile, could be forced to open up its telegraph poles and copper networks further if Ofcom gets its way. The communications watchdog said in March that the telco should open up its networks, including its poles, to other firms, albeit at a price.

BT acquiesced, but claimed that such moves were part of its plans already, even though it is sceptical that this will solve the problem of providing high-speed connections to rural communities.

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