It’s only a pilot program, but UK broadband provider Virgin Media (s VMED) said today it’s begun testing a 200 Mbps broadband service with 100 lucky people in Ashford in Kent, a town in Southeast England. Virgin will use DOCSIS 3.0 technology to offer the speeds, and claims the service will be faster than Cablenet’s service in Japan, which reaches 160 Mbps, and Cablevision’s (s CVC) 101 Mbps speeds in Long Island, N.Y.
Virgin Media will be testing applications consumers may be using regularly in the future, including entertainment services using HD and 3D TV as well as broadband content. It will also have the ability to deliver applications and support for home IT needs through the network, and connect a variety of Internet-ready devices such as video conferencing and home surveillance. The pilot will run for at least six months before Virgin tries to analyze the results, and determine if such speeds are commercially viable, and how much bandwidth people use.
It will also be trying to develop applications to take advantage of such fast speeds, which I think will be key to getting people to sign up and pay a premium for such services. We’ve written before about the killer apps for fat pipes, so we’ll see what Virgin Media’s subscribers choose. They should note, however, that Virgin may still be working with Phorm to deploy a controversial advertising program that would serve ads based on where subscribers surf. It also works closely with the music industry to send out notices to subscribers who may be downloading illegal copies of songs. So subscribers may have to ask themselves what this speed burst will cost them.