Virgin Media has rolled out its gigabit service to more areas across the UK today, including London and Northern Ireland.
The hyper-fast broadband switch-on will serve nearly three million extra households, with speeds 17 times faster than the national average of 1,104Mbps.
This means households will now be able to download 4K films near instantaneously as many continue to work from home.
Initially launched in September last year, Virgin Media’s gigabit network is already in Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Reading and Southampton.
Virgin Media has rolled out its gigabit service to areas across the UK, including London
It takes the firm’s total gigabit footprint to 6.8million homes across the UK, representing nearly half its network.
The news comes after the Government said it would bring full-fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: ‘The rollout of ultrafast broadband is vital for London’s future: it will create jobs, stimulate growth and give a much-needed boost to businesses at a crucial time.
‘As Mayor I’m proud we’re making real progress on London’s worst “not-spots” – including getting mobile coverage on the Underground, starting with the Jubilee Line.
‘It’s great news that Virgin Media is continuing to invest in London and ensuring six million Londoners can access gigabit speeds.’
Virgin Media intends to make its gigabit offering available across its entire network of more than 15million homes by the end of 2021.
Lutz Schuler, chief executive of Virgin Media, said: ‘It has never been clearer that our services play a vital role in supporting people’s everyday lives and powering the economy.
‘The nation needs next-generation connectivity and we’re delivering.
‘Our ambitious target will see us roll-out gigabit speeds across our entire network of more than 15million homes by the end of next year.
‘We’re on track to deliver that promise with homes in London and Northern Ireland the latest to gain access to blisteringly-fast Gig1 services.’
The company is currently planning a merger with telephone firm, O2, which will unite O2’s 34million customers with Virgin’s 5.3million customers.
It has said the firms will invest £10billion in the UK over the next five years, and create 1,000 apprenticeships.
Quick: Gigabit service is super-fast broadband that delivers high speeds to your household
What is gigabit service?
Gigabit service is super-fast broadband that delivers high speeds to your laptop, phone and computer.
Speeds near 1,000Mbps with gigabit internet, the fastest level of broadband available.
These kinds of speeds are typically only available in locations with fibre-to-the-premises, commonly known as full fibre connections.
This is when the connection between your provider, the network and your home is completed entirely using fibre-optic cables rather than copper phone lines.
New technology, however, means that gigabit speeds are available over the coaxial cables used in Virgin Media’s cable broadband networks in specific locations.
Experts believe that the news will be welcoming for those households still working from home.
Holly Niblett, head of digital at Compare the Market, said: ‘People across the UK are crying out for a better broadband speed, with many city and rural dwellers alike sharing a common frustration with poor connectivity.
‘As we enter a new national lockdown, it is inevitable that more people will be using broadband at home – and with millions more people continuing to work from home, broadband connectivity is increasingly important to the health of our economy.
‘We saw during the last national lockdown an increase in the number of customers opting for faster broadband packages, a trend that we predict will continue.
‘Whilst it remains to be seen whether this merger will provide better value packages for customers, any investment in improving broadband connectivity will be welcomed by customers.
‘One of the most effective ways for customers to save money on their broadband each month is to switch to a new provider when they are able.’
Ernest Doku, tech expert at Uswitch, added: ‘The roller coaster that is 2020 has underlined the importance of a reliable and fast broadband connection, with households dependent on the internet for their work, entertainment and even socialising – especially as our homes become ever smarter.
‘While the need for dependable connectivity isn’t going to go away, with consumers purchasing ever more connected devices to ensure their new normal runs smoothly, while many households won’t need these types of speeds just yet, future proofing the UK’s infrastructure is important to ensure it stands up to the best in the world.’