Virgin Media Trials Multi-Gigabit Broadband

By Holly Brockwell on at

Some of us might still be in the dark ages in terms of our broadband speeds, but a successful trial by Virgin Media shows that hyper-fast multi-gigabit speeds are totally possible.

The trial, which took place in Cambridgeshire, managed speeds of 8Gbps (that's gigabits, rather than the usual megabits per second). The resulting speed is 216 times the UK average, and Ofcom's speed test partner SamKnows had to scramble to make a testing tool fast enough.

Even better, the test uses Virgin's existing FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) network – meaning they didn't have to lay a load of new cables. And the 8Gbps speed goes both ways, so you get mega-fast uploads as well as downloads.

The 50 homes in the trial in Papworth get to keep their mega-speeds for six months, after which presumably they'll feel like you do when you get off the travelator at the airport and have to rely on your own underpowered legs again.

Richard Sinclair, Executive Director of Connectivity at Virgin Media, comments in between Twitch streams:

"Whether it’s streaming UHD movies on Netflix, playing the latest games online or video conferencing, faster internet connections have changed our lives immeasurably over the past decade. As speed leaders, Virgin Media is not going to stand still; this trial is about looking ahead to the next decade and beyond.

With the volume of our customers’ internet usage almost doubling every year, trials like this will ensure we have the capability to meet the demand of data-hungry services in the future – be that over cable or full fibre."

If you're struggling to imagine what an 8 gig connection is like (we are), here are the numbers:

  • A 5GB HD film downloads in 5 seconds. On a normal connection, it'd be over 15 minutes.
  • A 20GB 4K film downloads in 20 seconds, as opposed to over an hour.
  • A massive PS4 game like Red Dead Redemption 2 (99GB) downloads in under 2 minutes – it'd take over 5 hours on the average UK line.
  • 300 high-res photos (3GB) upload in 3 seconds instead of an hour and 10 minutes.

Frankly, we're extremely jealous and think the people of Papworth should have to do all our uploading for us as penance. You can collect the flash drive of holiday photos we'll never look at from Giz Towers.