Virgin begins fibre-over-telegraph-pole trial

Virgin Media is going to try stringing fibre-optic cables over telegraph poles in a bid to bring 50Mbit/s broadband connections to rural areas at low cost.

The trial begins in the Berkshire village of Woolhampton this month and is expected to run for six months.

Neil Berkett, chief executive officer of Virgin Media, said: "This unique trial will allow us to understand the possibilities of aerial deployment and may provide an exciting new way to extend next generation broadband services."

The trial is part of Virgin Media's plans to extend its fibre-optic network, which currently passes 12.6 million homes, to a further 500,000 homes. The company has identified more than one million homes in the UK that could benefit from deployment over telegraph poles.

Virgin says that the government is considering a change to planning guidelines to enable large-scale overhead deployment.

The Woolhampton trial will help Virgin understand the technical, operational and commercial viability of overhead deployment. The new trial will complement work begun last year in the Cornish villages of Mott and Saltash to run fibre-optic cables underground to BT's local street cabinets. Virgin Media believes that using a combination of overhead poles and underground ducts could make bringing high-speed broadband to rural communities more commercially viable.

Virgin believes this kind of 'non-traditional' approach could help bring next-generation broadband to more than one million homes throughout the UK without the need for government subsidy.

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