Virgin Media is to trial a new broadband service offering upload speeds as high as 10Mbit/s to explore the demand for less asymmetrical network connections for bandwidth-hungry customers.
The top-of-the-range uplink speeds will equal those recently announced by BT in its trial rollout of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) in Muswell Hill, North London and Whitchurch near Cardiff.
Traditional ADSL broadband gives higher download speeds - the headline figure that is typically advertised as the maximum bandwidth - but much lower upload speeds, which reflects the fact that most data typically flows in the direction of the user.
But as online services such as video players, cloud computing services and hosted file backup sites have emerged, so the need for higher uplink speeds has grown. Enterprises with teleworkers are also demanding better uplink speeds, to accelerate remote access to back-office applications and databases.
BT said at a recent presentation to the media that the premium upload speed for its FTTC trial would be 5Mbit/s, but BT strategy and portfolio group director Liv Garfield said last week that speed will be adjusted by BT's Openreach arm as service rollout proceeds in the next six to 12 months. BT said uplink speeds would rise to 15Mbit/s in the future.
Virgin Media's intention to increase upstream capacity could spur BT on to increase its speeds sooner rather than later.
Virgin Media also announced that its Data-Over-Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 3.0 technology upgrade - giving 50Mbit/s broadband to more than 12 million UK homes on its cable network - is also complete.
A new pricing scheme available from 1 September gives new and existing customers "traffic management-free" download speeds of 50Mbit/s for £28 per month when taken with a phone line.