Virgin Media is trialling Infinera’s XR Optics technology with the possibility of using it to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to customers.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology and Information Officer at Virgin Media, said:

“Our next-generation network already offers gigabit connectivity to more than seven million homes, but with data use and demand for hyperfast speeds surging, we’re continually investing in our network to prepare for whatever the future brings.

Innovations like this ensure our customers continue to benefit from the UK’s fastest widely available speeds, pave the way for future network upgrades and help support the rollout of multi-gigabit broadband and mobile services.”

XR Optics claims to “break the inherent limitations of traditional point-to-point optical transmission solutions” with improved coherent optical subcarrier aggregation and a pluggable and software-enabled architecture designed to reduce the cost of deploying and operating optical networks.

Traditional network transceivers are replaced with cutting-edge versions which split a single fibre optic cable into multiple connections:

The upgraded transceivers use standard passive fibre optic access network (PON) technology which means they can be remotely configured and enable the network operator to make changes in the future.

Virgin Media installed Infinera’s technology in Reading and found the equipment – which can be plugged into the existing network – was able to reach transfer rates of up to 400Gbps in a single fibre.

Dave Welch, Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of Infinera, commented:

“The trial with Virgin Media provides a solid proof point that Infinera’s XR optics technology can be seamlessly applied to existing networks.

This represents a radical shift in the way networks can be built, promising a more flexible and sustainable way to meet the ever-increasing need to transmit more data at higher speeds.”

The latest trial follows on from one Virgin Media conducted in 2019 where it achieved 10Gbps symmetric broadband in Papworth, Cambridgeshire. Virgin Media’s latest trial blows that away by proving its PON network can achieve 400Gbps.

With data consumption rapidly increasing, a trend which is only expected to gain further pace as more 5G traffic is carried to-and-from masts, trials such as this one will be vital to support growing demand.