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Communications Developer: May 12, 2009 eNewsLetter
May 12, 2009

Virgin Media Unveils Pilot for World's Fastest High-Speed Internet Service

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

“Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches
Had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches
Had none upon thars.”
– from “The Sneetches,” by Dr. Seuss
I don’t know what it is about “The Sneetches” (see the creatures pictured below), but Dr. Seuss’s hypnotizing rhymes in that story – a parable about class warfare and prejudice, among other things – always pop into my head when I hear about people, organizations and businesses one-upping each other.

It happens in communications and technology all the time, of course, and it appears to be happening right now, on a grand scale, in the high-speed Internet space.
Last week, the Cablevision Systems (News - Alert) Corporation introduced new high-speed Internet and WiFi (News - Alert) services that reach 101 megabits per second – the fastest of its kind in the United States, based on DOCSIS 3.0 technology and, starting this week, available for $100 per month.
Now, we hear from U.K. entertainment and communications giant Virgin Media, a 200Mb broadband customer pilot is being launched – the fastest DOCSIS 3.0-based technology in the world.
Neil Berkett, chief executive officer at Virgin Media, said the company is “really excited” about the plan.
“With the only true next-generation network in the United Kingdom, we’re at the forefront of innovation and understanding when it comes to ultrafast broadband services and the 200Mb pilot will give us further insight into how true ‘wideband’ services might be used by consumers,” Berkett said.
What does this service mean for customers? Consider this: With Cablevision’s new offering, which is about half as fast as what Virgin Media is testing, consumers can download a full-length high-definition movie in less 10 minutes. The U.S. company’s “Optimum (News - Alert) Online Ultra” also enables the download of up to 750 digital photos or 150 songs in one minute.
So, the 200 Mb offering from Virgin Media, for the telecom industry, is like the equivalent of Babe Ruth’s introduction as a full-time hitter for Major League Baseball in 1920 (in that year, his first as a New York Yankee, Ruth clubbed 54 home runs, besting the hitherto record, his own, of 29.)
To be fair, Japan offers a 160Mb service. (J:Com offers that service, also through DOCSIS 3.0 technology for broadband over cable networks.)
Officials at Virgin Media say they launched their pilot last week in Kent, and will build to 100 “lead adopters” – essentially pilot customers who will put the advanced service through its paces.
During the pilot, Virgin Media says it plans to test applications that consumers may use regularly in the future, including entertainment services using TV and broadband content in full high-definition and 3D.
It’s worth noting that Virgin Media is working with the world’s largest maker of computer networking gear, U.S.-based Cisco Systems Inc., to implement the 200Mb pilot.
Cisco (News - Alert) is providing technology and collaborative technical support in order to fully realize the potential of Virgin Media’s DOCSIS3 network,” company officials say.

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan


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