Virgin to offer broadband twice as fast as its rivals

Virgin Media is to launch a new ultra-fast broadband service, which it claims is twice as fast as that offered by BT and the rest of the competition.

Britain's third-biggest broadband provider, behind BT and Sky, said the new top speed of 152Mb would appeal to homes where people increasingly use multiple devices connected to the web at the same time.

The 152Mb service, which will cost £37.50 without line rental, means a customer can download a TV show in 60 seconds on Virgin's fibre-optic cable network.

Customers on the present top 120Mb service will automatically be upgraded, while those on lower speeds will also get a boost.

Chief executive Tom Mockridge rejected suggestions Virgin had to invest in broadband because it was being outpaced in pay-TV by BT and Sky, which have bought up all the Premier League football rights.

"What's growing most in the communications sector is broadband – more than TV or mobile," he said, noting Virgin had seen internet usage surge by 55 per cent in the past year.

Mr Mockridge insisted Virgin was in a strong position in pay-TV because it was staying out of the BT-Sky battle yet had a "comprehensive" range.

"We're the operator that has both Sky Sports and BT Sport," he explained, pointing out the rivalry between the other two means neither company will let the other carry its full range of TV sport channels.

Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington is fronting Virgin's new advertising campaign, which is launched tomorrow.

Mr Mockridge would not comment on speculation that Virgin's parent, Liberty Global, is bidding for Channel 5.