A new IHS Markit report from the EU cable (DOCSIS) trade association, Cable Europe, has praised Virgin Media’s (Liberty Global) £3bn network expansion for helping the United Kingdom to come second from top in terms of being the largest EU cable market by revenue (generating £3.4bn (€4bn)).

Apparently gross cable revenues totalled £18.8 billion (€22.4bn) in 2015, up from £17.8bn (€21.2bn) in 2014, with Germany and the United Kingdom being the largest markets in terms of revenue, generating £3.95bn (€4.7bn) and £3.4bn (€4bn) respectively.

As for how this revenue splits down, the £8.8bn (€10.5bn) of revenue for TV accounted for almost half of the total and Internet services similarly held £6bn (€7.2bn) of the total, with the latter being 9.7% higher than last year. The UK alone also accounted for £1.26bn (€1.5bn) of cable Internet revenues.

EU Cable Network Revenue 2016

At present around half of the United Kingdom is covered by Virgin Media’s cable (EuroDOCSIS) based broadband and TV network, although the operator’s £3bn Project Lightning expansion intends to add an additional 4 million premises by 2019 (half of those will be FTTP based) and this should push the operator’s total coverage to roughly 60-65% of all premises. Most of their network is in busy urban areas, with a few exceptions.

Leading cable operators across Europe have also been upgrading their broadband networks, which has allowed some to offer Internet download speeds of up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps+). By comparison Virgin Media in the UK remains at 200Mbps, although their small business focused HomeWorks+ add-on can take this to 300Mbps and we’re expecting a new 300Mbps or 350Mbps option to launch for residential consumers in the very near future.

Maria Rua Aguete, Research Director for IHS, said:

“In response to challenges posed by other platforms, 2015 saw a determined effort by many operators to invest in infrastructure and significantly improve their offerings. Perhaps the most ambitious was Project Lightning, a huge broadband expansion programme undertaken by Virgin Media in the UK.”

The report logically predicts that faster speeds will go hand-in-hand with the roll-out of 4K (Ultra HD) video and TV services, but for now High Definition TV (HDTV) remains the dominant service with 54% of European digital cable homes taking such a product and 4K being in the minority.

Meanwhile Virgin Media’s parent, Liberty Global, recently announced a new initiative called GIGAWorld that aims to help promote their plans for rolling out Gigabit / DOCSIS 3.1 capable broadband (1000Mbps+) to the 12 European countries in which it operates (here). Apparently most of their markets could be done by the end of 2018 and Virgin Media may begin their UK deployment towards the end of 2017.