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Virgin Media dishes out free bandwidth boost

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Virgin Media has announced plans to upgrade its mid-range "L" broadband from maximum 4Mbit/s downstream to maximum 10Mbit/s at no extra cost to customers.

The upgrade will start in late February on a region-by-region basis, and will take until late summer to complete.

Upstream speeds will also get a boost to 512Kbit/s, from the current 384Kbit/s. Peak time bandwidth-throttling policies will still apply for heavy users.

"L" users got the thin end of the wedge when Virgin relaxed those traffic limits in December. Today's free speed upgrade announcement should help redress the balance.

It's part of moves by Virgin to position itself as the premium broadband provider ahead of BT's 24Mbit/s upgrade, which won't be complete until 2011. By the end of this year Virgin's fastest cable package will tip the needle to 50Mbit/s downstream.

The firm's recently-installed boss Neil Berkett is set to speak tomorrow at a second government conference on improving UK internet infrastructure. There's growing calls for action in order to compete with international rivals who have taken the lead on next-generation access. The first meeting was in November. ®

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