In a press release today, Virgin Media announced that it was trialling 1.5Gb/s cable broadband connections with four media companies in London. Offering 1.5 Gb/s down and 150 Mb/s up, if successful it would be the world’s fastest cable broadband and about 240 times faster than the UK average connection speed.
The technology will use the same infrastructure as delivered to residential customers, so in theory, if it works in this trial it should work just about everywhere Virgin has a cable network. Virgin has already successfully trialled download speeds of 1Gb/s in its fibre network but currently offers 100Mb/s as the maximum speed. Virgin has connections to 12.6 million homes, mostly in urban areas, making them one of the largest residential broadband providers in the UK.
Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said: “Demand for greater bandwidth is growing rapidly as more devices are able to connect to the internet and as more people go online simultaneously. Our growing network provides a highly competitive alternative to the fastest fibre networks of the future and, with our ongoing investment plans, we can anticipate and meet demand as it develops over time, ensuring Virgin Media business and residential customers continue to enjoy world-class broadband.”
The four companies involved in the trial are all in “creative industries” working with on-line video, broadcasting and interactive applications. Sam Orams, co-founder of BespokeBanter.com, one of the companies testing Virgin Media’s 1.5Gb broadband, said: “While the average home might not need these speeds quite yet, we certainly will. The internet is critical to what we do and intrinsically linked to our future growth so it’s exciting to be working with Virgin Media at the forefront of broadband innovation in the UK.”
The Virgin Media network uses DOCSIS3 and can bond several channels together to provide the data speed bought by the customer. Consequently, there’s a choice of different speeds (10 Mb/s, 30 Mb/s, 50 Mb/s, 100 Mb/s). Virgin currently offers 100 Mb/s in cabled areas for £35 per month. Regrettably, I’m not in one of those cabled areas and I’m stuck at about 3 Mb/s. Bah!
Virgin Media today launched the first commercially available 3D digital TV on-demand service in the UK. Called “3D Movies On Demand”, it’s ready for Virgin Media TV customers with 3D technology, who will now be able to choose 3D movies from the already extensive range of programmes available on-demand.
The on-demand back-end is provided by FilmFlex and it’s expected that the number of 3D films available will grow over the next few months. Customers will need a 3D-ready set-top box and a 3D hi-def TV plus glasses.
“We’re really excited to bring a taste of 3D to our customers in the comfort of their own homes. As we’ve already seen with the take-up of high definition programmes, viewers are continually looking for new ways to experience their favourite shows, and with the addition of 3D On Demand, they will be able to watch eye-popping movies whenever they want.” said Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media.
Reading the technical blurb, it says that, “Virgin Media have chosen a 3D encoding method that is compatible with our existing 2D TV broadcast platform. This method which has been adopted by many other broadcasters around the world takes the two (left and right eye) 3D images with 1920 x 1080 resolution, squeezes each image down to 960 x 1080 and then joins them together to form a new “side by side” image with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 that is now compatible with our existing 2D platform. The 3D TV then recreates a full picture by expanding the side-by-side encoded images and displaying these together (polarised or passive 3D) or alternately (shutter or active 3D).”
I was wondering how they managed to do this so (relatively) quickly.
The full press release is here.
Great commentary from all of you and we cover a huge amount of tech news today. Some voicemail taking me to task at the end of the show over the financial issues of dreamhost.
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