Wednesday 23 October 2019

Virgin Media Ireland promises new TV box and faster wifi speeds

Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Virgin Media Ireland is to introduce a new, higher-specification television box for its 269,000 Irish TV customers later this year.

It has also launched a new ‘smart wifi’ system and says it will add at least 20,000 homes to its 930,000-premise Irish network reach this year.

“We know we haven’t quite kept pace with some other television boxes,” said Paul Farrell, the company’s vice president of commercial operations.

“This will be a wireless multi-room box with 4K and all the bells and whistles. It will do everything that the UK box currently does although it will be a different model. We’re expecting to make an announcement about this this Autumn. We’re very excited about it.”

The company has seen a substantial fall in TV customers in recent years, although the latest figures from Comreg’s quarterly statistics show a marginal increase over the last three months.

Mr Farrell also said that one in five of the company’s new broadband customers have opted for its higher 500Mbs broadband service. The faster product, which costs €69 per month after a promotional period, is being targeted at “busy” households with gamers and other high bandwidth users.

He said that the company has no imminent plans to offer a 1,000Mbs product, citing lack of current demand.

“Our network is absolutely capable of that,” he told Independent.ie. “We’ve taken Comreg and others through the figures to show that we have a future proof network. When there is demand for that speed, we will absolutely offer it.”

Mr Farrell said that Virgin does not plan to open its network up as a wholesale option to other operators, despite being the only high speed network in Dublin at present.

“No is the short answer,” he said. “We have a philosophy with our network and we have no plans to do that.”

Mr Farrell made the remarks against the backdrop of Eir announcing that it will upgrade most of its urban networks from copper to fibre-to-the-home, which it will also offer to other operators.

Mr Farrell said that Virgin’s broadband network currently reaches 930,000 premises around the country. He said that the company would build out between 20,000 and 30,000 premises to the network’s reach area this year. He also said that it expects to add a similar amount in coming years, but that it would largely follow new-build housing plans in urban or semi-urban areas.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media Ireland has launched a series of new ’smart wifi’ updates that aim to supply customers with more consistent broadband speeds in more areas of their home.

The company says that the number of in-home connected devices is expected to grow from ten devices at present to an average of 50 devices by 2020.

The ‘smart wifi’ updates include ‘channel optimisation’ and ‘airtime fairness’. With ‘channel optimisation’, the household’s wifi hub regularly checks to see if the home’s wifi is congested and switches your devices to the ‘quietest’ channel for optimised speeds.

 With ‘airtime fairness’, the wifi hub shares wifi ‘fairly’ between devices, so data-hungry devices like smart TVs and games consoles don’t take control of all the bandwidth.

 “We’re not just delivering the fastest speeds but we’re also working to make our wifi as reliable as possible,” said Mr Farrell. ”With these innovative new ‘smart wifi’ features our Virgin Media wifi hubs users can be sure they’re getting the best possible wifi connection and speeds to all of their devices.

"We’re continuing to invest substantially in our network through expansion and upgrades to provide the fastest broadband speeds and to deliver even faster speeds in the future.”

Virgin Media Ireland has 378,100 broadband subscribers in Ireland.

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