50Mb broadband unveiled in the UK

The UK's fastest broadband service will be launched today.

Virgin Media is to unveil a 50 Megabits per second (Mb) domestic service, more than twice that of the nearest competition.

It is said to be nine times the speed of average broadband in the UK, allowing users to download video and online TV faster than ever before.

Be Broadband currently offers a 24Mb facility, with Virgin's existing top speed being 20Mb.

The broadband speed denotes how quickly data can be accessed from the web.

It is not clear how many homes will have access to Virgin's new service, which will be rolled out throughout 2009 with Warrington reportedly the first place to be upgraded because of the density of Virgin customers in the area.

Users will be able to download an entire music album in as little as 11 seconds, a TV show in a minute and a movie in as little as 3.5 minutes.

Earlier this month broadband providers agreed to new rules ensuring that consumers are better informed about the actual speed of broadband they have bought.

Media watchdog Ofcom's code of practice has the backing of internet service providers (ISPs) to give more information about line speeds.

The code was drawn up after research found consumers were confused by companies advertising higher broadband speeds than they were able to receive.

Almost a quarter of people do not get the speed they expect, according to early results from Ofcom research due to be published next year.