A new trial of 'hyperfast' broadband connectivity that offers speeds some eight times faster than the current top-end offerings available in the UK, and 216 times faster than the country's average, has got underway in Cambridgeshire.
The test is being run by Virgin Media and uses the firm's existing fibre-to-the-premises network along with Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) technology to deliver the services, meaning there is no need to install a new dedicated line.
EPON is typically used to provide connectivity with speeds of up to 1Gbps to homes and businesses, but Virgin has been working with technology partner ARRIS to trial new equipment and software to increase the speeds that its residential fibre network is capable of delivering.
Set to last for six months, the trial will aim to deliver these services to up to 50 homes in Papworth, Cambridgeshire. As the technology offers fully symmetrical connectivity, it can support simultaneous upload and download speeds of up to 8Gbps.
This means that it can take just 20 seconds to download a typical 4K movie, while a 99GB video game can be downloaded in just 2 seconds.
For uploads, where speeds for most users are usually much lower than downloads, 300 high-resolution photos can be sent to the cloud in just two seconds, compared with one hour and ten minutes for the average UK connectivity.
Richard Sinclair, executive director of connectivity at Virgin Media, said "faster internet connections have changed our lives immeasurably over the past decade", but it is important the industry does not stand still.
He added: "With the volume of our customers' internet usage almost doubling every year, trials like this will ensure we have the capability to meet the demand of data-hungry services in the future - be that over cable or full fibre."
Steve McCaffery, president, international sales and managing director, international business operations at Arris, added that until now, it has been received wisdom that multi-gigabit speeds would only be for lab tests, large enterprises and governments, but thanks to trials such as Virgin's, these cutting-edge technologies are now making it to people's homes.