Virgin Media says Manchester is the first city to benefit from "Project Lightning"

Manchester £3bn broadband ‘high-speed selfie’ campaign led by former Girls Aloud star

Manchester has become the first city to benefit from a £3 billion ultrafast broadband rollout, courtesy of Virgin Media.

The UK internet provider has announced that Manchester is the first city to benefit from “Project Lightning” – an expansion of ultrafast connectivity to four million premises over the next five years.

The company says it’s the single largest investment in the UK’s broadband digital infrastructure for more than a decade.

To mark the launch, Virgin Media enlisted former Girls Aloud pop star Sarah Harding to trial its ‘high-speed selfie’ photo booth experience, by being photographed in the face of g-force speeds. The two-day experience will be open for the public in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.

The news comes as Ofcom introduces a new process for consumers changing broadband providers. Previously, broadband customers required a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) from their current supplier to allow them to switch to a new provider. Ofcom is now removing MACs and so customers will instead need to correspond with their new provider going forwards, who will manage the switch for them. 

An extra 150,000 Manchester premises are set to benefit from ultrafast broadband, with consumers and communities able to register their interest online.

Work starts this week to connect the first 20,000 Manchester homes and businesses to broadband speeds of 152MB. 

Virgin Media expects to connect more premises in neighbouring postal towns prioritised according to demand from consumers and businesses.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "This is wonderful news for Manchester residents and businesses. We are in the midst of a remarkable transformation of the UK’s digital landscape, and Virgin Media’s £3 billion investment will play an important role in ensuring our cities are fully equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age in which we live."

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media CEO, added: “Our message is simple: help us to cable your street. If you want to switch to broadband speeds twice as fast as you can get today, simply register with Virgin Media to ‘cablemystreet’.”

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