Virgin launches 50Mbps broadband in Britain

Virgin Media has launched the first high-speed broadband service in Britain. The company claims the 50Mbps offering is around 9 times faster than the nation's average broadband speed.

Vigin Media CEO Neil Berkett touted the launch as a historic moment for Britain and the company.

'Our 50Mb service represents the dawning of a new era of high-speed services in the UK,' he said. According to Reuters, the average broadband speed in Britain is between 4 and 5Mbps.

The plan will be offered for 51 pounds ($76) as a standalone service, or 35 pounds per month when bundled with a phone line.

Virgin hopes the high-speed network will cover 40 percent of its customers, reaching the rest of the network - representing a possible subscriber-base of 12.6 million homes - by late 2009.

Rival BT is currently trialling 24Mbps broadband, Reuters reports, and intends to build a high-speed network, which will offer speeds of 40-60Mbps and cover 10 million homes, by 2012.