Virgin Media said it has completed its upgrade of its entire network to DOCSIS 3.0 and is celebrating by cutting prices and offering its customers free computers in a promotion similar to the way cellular companies distribute free handsets.
Virgin Media said that it has tripled its network capacity with the upgrade. It claims to be the first to offer broadband at rates up to 50 Mbps to more than 12 million homes across the U.K.
The next step is taking advantage of the upstream capabilities afforded by DOCSIS 3.0. The company said it is about to begin trials in which it will offer upload speeds of up to 10 Mbps.
That’s far less than what the technology is capable of, but the trial is expected to gauge not the technological capabilities, but market demand for upstream bandwidth, for services such as video conferencing, multiplayer gaming and home working.
Meanwhile, Virgin Media announced a cost reduction for its 50 Mbps tier. Starting in September, the company said it would reduce the monthly fee for new and existing customers to £28 (about $46 at today’s exchange rates) when taken with a phone line, or £38 (about $62) if taken alone.
The company is also going to launch a branded laptop. The Freedom computer, described as a netbook and soon available in black or Virgin red, is optimized for 50 Mbps speeds and will be packaged with top-of-the-line software. Both new and existing customers will be able to get the laptop at no additional charge when they sign up to specific bundled packages.
The company pointedly noted that its 50 Mbps service “continues to be free of traffic management.”