Virgin Media FTTP Install – Fibre to the Home

Project Lightning is Virgin Media’s latest expansion of their network, potentially passing 4 million extra premises, a large portion of it will break away from the traditional hybrid fibre-coaxial network and change to radio frequency over glass and FTTP.

The installation took about 2 hours and was similar to an ordinary coaxial install, the CPE are the same as legacy installs but there’s now a larger “omnibox” that houses the incoming fibre and powered RFoG node.

Laying the microduct
Laying the microduct

The microduct contains the blown fibre, but it is only installed “spade depth” in the ground which could cause problems in the future if you were to change the surface.

Internal Wall Box - The cable on the right connects to a small power adapter which feeds power out to the RFoG node in the external wall box.
Internal Wall Box – The cable on the right connects to a small power adapter which feeds power out to the RFoG node in the external wall box.
External Wall Box
External Wall Box

The external wall box is bigger than before, it houses the fibre which is pre terminated at one end with an SP/APC connector and blown to the local distribution cabinet where it is then spliced into the rest of the fibre network.

Inside the External Wall Box - FTTP RFoG Node
Inside the External Wall Box – FTTP RFoG Node

The RFoG node is a Vector BOOSTRAL 610 which is IP42 rated for external use, the wall box cover doesn’t have a rubber seal and slides over the wall mounted piece, time will tell if it can stand the elements!

Vector BOOSTRAL 610 Data Sheet

If you’re interested, the Virgin Media Project Lightning Developers Guide shows a lot of the technical detail that makes up the local side of the new RFoG network.

VIVID 200 Speed Test
VIVID 200 Speed Test

I went for VIVID 200, a nice upgrade over the previous FTTC which topped out at about 30Mbps, we’ll have to see how things go as more and more customers are added to the network.

If you’ve got any questions about the install, head to the comments section below.

Amazing HD. No extra monthly fee (As long as you don’t want Sky premium channels!)

Virgin Mediasky

I’ve been following this for a while now, a few weeks ago Ofcom told Sky that they had to supply others with their premium sports channels at a reasonable wholesale rate. Incidentally the rates are £13.42 for Sky Sports 1, £13.34 for Sky Sports 2 or £19.07 for both the channels (No mention of Sky Sports 3 and 4).

BT Vision were the first to announce their loss making prices of £11.99 each for Sky Sports or £16.99 for both (12 month contract). Virgin Media who already carry the Sky “premium” channels today announced that they would offer the HD versions of the sky premium channels (including movies) for £7 a month per set top box.

Now, Virgin Media already had an agreement with Sky to carry their premium channels, the details of which are obviously a closely guarded secret so we don’t know if VM are now paying less for the channels wholesale or not. What wasn’t explicitly covered in the Ofcom document was the price of supplying the high definition versions of the channels, Ofcom instead included an “obligation for supply to be on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis”, again no figures have been mentioned so we don’t know if this is more or less than the £7 VM are charging.

I’ve been a Virgin Media customer for a long time, paying a £150 for a TV Drive HD box in 2006 when there was only BBC HD and ITV HD (which disappeared until its re-birth on the platform in 2010) and more recently an additional V+ box which was offered to me for the grand total of £49 for being such a lovely customer.

Now I appreciate the subtleties of advertising and how business can lead customers with clever adverts and small print, for example VM never including the cost of an almost mandatory land line in their prices, just one of the things that annoy me. Include it in the price you show me instead of me having to add it on, also don’t make it more expensive for me to buy your services if I don’t take your land line package. I don’t use my land line, it’s just cheaper for me to get it in the bundle and you hope that I’ll make calls with it to make you a little extra revenue.

This morning I saw a comparison VM had put together showing that they were cheaper than Sky, for some reason I now can’t find the page (maybe it was removed) but I thought I would throw some figures in the air, now I know Sky do ADSL and their stated Internet speeds are “up to” and I know that the customer is responsible for their own set top box with Sky, unlike with VM but here goes…

I’ve removed the two months free offer that VM are currently doing and please bear in mind I’ve already paid Virgin Media £199 for two HD boxes over the years and these prices include no loyalty discounts:

Virgin Media

Bundle (XL TV, XL Broadband, M Phone) £43/m
Sky Sports and Sky Movies Collection £27.50/m
Virgin Media Phone Line Rental £11.99/m
Additional Set-top Box £5.50/m
Sky HD Premium x 2 £14/m

Total: £101.99/m

This excludes the £49.00 V+ Set-up fee for the first box and £75 for the second V+ box. Also, there are VIP bundles from VM that include a land line calls package, but for the sake of comparing the TV and Broadband offerings from both companies I excluded this, it’s slightly more expensive than £102/m anyway!

Sky

All Entertainment + Movies Pack + Sports Pack £48.50/m
HD Pack x 2 £20
Multiroom £10
Sky Talk Line Rental £11
Broadband Unlimited £7.50

Total: £97/m

This excludes the £199 cost of the second Sky+HD Box, also remember that Sky includes Sky Sports 3 and 4 in HD, ESPN is not included with Sky but it is with Virgin Media and that the upto 20MB Broadband speeds are dependent on where you live unlike with VM.