UK broadband provider Virgin Media has announced that it is to double the broadband speeds of most of its customers at no extra cost. The ISP, which provides hybrid cable connectivity to four million households across the UK, said that it will double the top-line speeds of all those on its 10Mb, 20Mb, 30Mb and 50Mb packages, while increasing those already on its 100Mb package to 120Mb.

Virgin Media has said it will double cable broadband speeds in the UK for free over the next 18 months

The speed boost will begin in February 2012, but take up to 18 months for the upgrade programme to be complete. Upload and ‘fair usage’ limits will be “increased in proportion” to the new headline download speeds.

The move is designed to ensure Virgin Media remains top of the broadband speed tables ahead of UK incumbent BT, which has been pushing its own fibre-optic service branded ‘Infinity’. This currently tops out at 40Mbs but  BT has announced plans to take this up to 100Mbps.

Virgin Media chief executive officer, Neil Berkett said in a statement that “the internet has become an integral part of our social, work and family lives, so we think our customers are going to love this.”

“As people are increasingly doing more online, and getting connected to the internet with lots of different devices, having a fast, reliable broadband service should not be a luxury. We want to make sure that consumers have access to the best value broadband service and that means a superfast connection.”

The move was also welcomed by the UK government and British Prime Minister David Cameron commented: “I welcome this announcement from Virgin Media; it will provide a great boost for the economy and change the way many households, consumers and businesses use the internet. Rolling out superfast broadband across the country is a critical part of our plan to upgrade the UK’s infrastructure and build a new and smarter economy.”

Virgin Media has launched a marketing campaign to promote the speed boost with 100m world record holder Us ain Bolt with the slogan ‘’Keep Up’ with Virgin Media’. However, the company will need to improve its marketing communications after an email gaff to many of its customers over the weekend promised an increase from 100Mb connections to 120Mb, when they were not actually 100Mb customers at all. A second email quickly followed apologising for the error but stating that, “rest assured current Virgin Media cable Broadband customers will be receiving some good news about their Broadband in the next 2 weeks.”

The Broadband MEA conference is taking place on the 25-27th March 2012, at the Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Dubai, UAE. Go to the website now to register your interest.

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