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First Trial Users Live on Virgin Media's UK XGS-PON Fibre Network – ISPreview.co.uk

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UK ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) has confirmed that the first trial customers on their new XGS-PON powered Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network were connected this month, which in the future will make even faster latency and symmetric speeds of up to 10Gbps possible across their entire network.
At present around 14.3 million of Virgin Media’s premises are reached via their older Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) network using DOCSIS 3.1 technology, while more than 1 million of their premises are also being served by “full fibreFTTP using the older Radio Frequency over Glass (RFoG) approach to ensure compatibility between both sides of their network.
The operator’s existing FTTP and HFC deployments are already capable of gigabit speeds, but in order to stay competitive into the future, VMO2 needed to go beyond this. The solution they chose, as announced last year (here and here), was to upgrade all of their existing HFC areas – at a cost of c.£100 per home (using their existing ducts) – to support the latest 10Gbps XGS-PON powered FTTP technology by 2028 (Project Mustang).
An early technology pilot of this approach was conducted on 50,000 premises in Stoke, Salisbury and Wakefield earlier this year, but the main rollout programme has now been running for around 6 months. The good news is that the operator has this month begun to switch on this new network and connect their first live trial customers.
Jeanie York, VMO2’s Chief Technology Officer, said:
“This month marked an important milestone in the future evolution of our broadband services: for the first time, we switched on state-of-the-art XGS-PON technology on our live full-fibre network. The first trialists are benefitting from this new technology which, in the years to come, will power every broadband connection on our network building on the gigabit leadership we have today.
In future, customers could upload as quickly as they download with speeds of up to 10Gbps – ten times faster than the top speeds today – with nearly imperceptible delays … Not only does XGS-PON support multi-gigabit symmetrical speeds, but it provides a far more energy efficient networking solution. The technology uses less power, helping reduce our energy consumption and deliver our broader sustainability ambitions.”
However, at present, the operator has yet to announce what sort of packages and prices they’ll launch alongside the new XGS-PON network, but we suspect they won’t announce that until the upgrade programme has achieved better coverage (probably sometime later in 2023).
The same technology also underpins the group’s separate plan to rollout FTTP to an additional 7 million UK premises – under a new entity – to new greenfield areas by 2027, which will be offered at wholesale to rival ISPs.
Any idea if they’ll trial upgrading their FTTP (RFoG) areas too, you’d think this would be easier (in terms of low/no build and just have kit swap outs – space permitting).
I always find it a bit surprising they’ve got various FTTP areas already which will be on mismatched kit (especially areas they bought – like Swadlincote) and they’ve not announced tackling any of those.
In my head at least you’d think it would be a “quick win” to bump those areas to 10gig “availability”
So far as I’m aware, everything will be going XGS-PON.
RFOG is effectively FTTB, no? Assume it’s based on g-pon?
No and no respectively, Clive. Not based on GPON and is fibre to the home.
RFoG is about running DOCSIS over fibre, and XGS-PON will be a migration (not as big as HFC to XGS-PON but still important).
Any clues as to what boxes Virgin are providing to these customers to use TV and phone services? Or are they providing only Internet in these areas?
Stream box would work if they wanted to as completely Ip based but does not have recording capability turned on because of rights issues.
No announcement yet, in small trials they were using a Zyxel XGS PON router. They were trialling both the Tibit micro OLT and a traditional Nokia ont.
For now just internet
Ultimately the phone will work via the phone ports on the hub like in all other VM areas and TV will be IP based
The Xpon site are using hub 5x with 10 gig ethernet port and its just broadband and telco only at moment installs started this week
XGS-PON is just for broadband, so RF is still required for TV (to maintain compatibility with existing STBs) and thus overlaid on the same PON. Eventually TV will go all-IP and will require a different STB.
That’s the RFoG fibre network. If they kept Docsis over pon that would mean still coax to the TV as current stbs are coax. So that would mean coax from outside to inside of house. The router is said to have equiv of ONT inside it. Why have those two types of connection?
Virgin Stream is completely IP based just they can’t use the record to cloud function right now.
I already have 2 fibre providers available and Virgin Media is just getting installed now. Its a thin green cable they are installing so would that be fibre? I also saw them doing work in areas that already have Virgin Media Broadband.
Just read the post and relised its part coax :/ Would the ping be simmlier to BT FTTP?
If this is a DOCSIS then add +15ms to latency. If you also have real FTTP ISP available then the answer is simple, don’t go with Virgin.
I was wondering how this project was getting on. I almost wasn’t expecting any announcements till 2028.
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