Virgin Media O2 has connected its entire network of 1.2 million homes in Scotland to gigabit broadband, offering connectivity 19 times faster than the Scottish average.
The switch on means that 2.8 million Scots – more than 50% of the population – can now access gigabit broadband with average download speeds of 1,130Mbps, which enable users to do more online at the same time and on multiple devices. Gigabit broadband paves the way for future technologies and applications including metaverse style augmented and virtual reality experiences, as well as enabling users to send and receive large files seamlessly.
Virgin Media O2 is the only internet service provider to have completed a gigabit upgrade programme in Scotland at this scale, rolling out next-generation services across its Scottish network under two years without the need for civil engineering work.
Alongside its gigabit switch-on, the company has continued to make its ultrafast services available in more places across Scotland through its Project Lightning network expansion programme. Since 2015, the business has invested more than £180 million to connect 300,000 Scottish homes and businesses to its network. This year alone, it has connected tens of thousands of additional homes including in Glasgow, East Lothian, Dundee, Fife, East Renfrewshire and Angus.
Virgin Media O2 has also been upgrading its mobile network – providing a 4G upgrade to almost 13,000 postcodes in Scotland since the start of the year, including at busy destinations such as the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens, University of Glasgow, St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park and Musselburgh Racecourse. It has also started rolling out new sites under the Shared Rural Network agreement in areas such as South Knapdale, Elvingston, Hamnavoe and the Isle of Harris.
As part of its plan to upgrade the UK, the company has committed to invest £10 billion over the next five years, with plans to expand 5G coverage to cover 50% of the population in 2023 and upgrade its entire fixed network to full fibre to the premises with completion in 2028.
Rob Evans, Managing Director of Fixed Network Expansion at Virgin Media O2, said: “We’re delivering on our mission to upgrade the UK, investing in our network to help the country bounce back stronger.
“Our latest gigabit switch-on means that every home connected to our network in Scotland is now able to access ultrafast speeds fit for today and fit for the future.
“Whether it’s through our gigabit roll out, 4G and 5G upgrades or network expansion, we’re going further and faster to deliver next-generation services for the people of Scotland.”
Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, said: “It is great to hear that 1.2 million homes across Scotland now have access to Virgin Media O2’s broadband services offering speeds of just over one gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second, as well as improved access to 4G. By helping people stay connected and supporting a resilient, green and inclusive economic recovery, digital connectivity has never been so important.
“The Scottish Government places a high priority on enabling digital connectivity across all of Scotland, as demonstrated by our Reaching 100% (R100) programme – including investment of £579 million in the R100 contracts – and £28.75 million in our Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) programme, which is delivering up to 55 masts across Scotland.
“This, like other commercial investments, complements our activity and is crucial in supporting high quality digital connectivity that benefits all of our communities.”
Digital connectivity opportunity in Scotland
The announcement follows recent research published by Virgin Media O2 and economic modelling experts Oxford Analytica, which found that investment in full fibre and mobile connectivity in Scotland could unlock 41,746 jobs, boost the economy by more than £5.3 billion by 2026 and help tackle inequality.
The research reveals investment in digital connectivity improvements could provide a multi-billion-pound economic boost to regions across Scotland, with Glasgow City Region (£1.24bn), Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region (£1.08bn), Tay Cities Region (£463m), Aberdeen City Region (£440m), Ayrshires (£182 m) and South of Scotland (£161m) all set to see sizable economic uplifts.