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Virgin Media gets backing to push £3bn 'Project Lightning'

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Virgin Media has announced plans to invest £3bn in broadband for ‘Project lightning’, the ‘biggest UK internet investment for a decade’.

The scheme will be based on improving Virgin Media’s fibre optic broadband network, aiming to reach 17m homes in comparison to the current figure of 13m. Running over the next five years, the proposal will not only assist customers, but it is a positive move towards improving the job market , creating 6,000 new jobs, 1000 of which will be apprenticeships. This is predicted to benefit the UK economy by £8bn. The move has governmental backing, as Prime Minister David Cameron stated:

“I welcome this substantial investment from Virgin Media which is a vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan to support business and create jobs by building a superfast nation backed by world-class infrastructure”.

Households will be provided with perfected mobile speeds of 152Mbps, twice as fast as speeds from competitors, TalkTalk, BT and Sky. This sets Virgin Media ahead of the game, as the first provider of broadband, TV, mobile phone and home phone services in the UK.

The news will be welcomed in parts of the UK that ‘until recently’ had been without Virgin Media. In December the company announced that their services would now be available to 44,000 new homes in South West Scotland and North West England, providing speeds eleven times faster than rival BT. This means businesses in these areas will benefit from increased connectivity, as customers will be able to sign up to ‘cable my street’.

The plans are timely, as Virgin Media saw an 8.9% increase in business revenue for Quarter four 2014, alongside a 4% overall revenue growth, leaving them with £1.07bn. Virgin puts this development down to an increase in cable subscription revenue.

The company’s profits clearly highlight a confidence in their services. With a total of 3.05m mobile customers registered by the end of 2014, compared to 2.99m in 2013. ‘Project Lightning’ is a, “Significant investment that demonstrates the confidence we have in Virgin Media and the UK as a place to do business.”

Published on Friday 13 February by Rachel Gee

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