Ofcom report dampens Virgin Media O2's 10 million gigabit home milestone

London
Virgin Media generated 33 home broadband complaints per 100,000 customers, far surpassing an industry average of 19. (Pixabay)

Virgin Media O2 activated gigabit speeds for another 1.7 million customers, raising the tally of customers covered with its top-tier service to 10 million. Its announcement came the day after U.K. regulator Ofcom released a report which showed Virgin Media generated the highest number of complaints among fixed broadband providers prior to its merger with mobile player O2 in June.

Newly upgraded locations include the cities of Blackpool, Cambridge, Leicester, Nottingham, Oxford and Swindon. The announcement comes less than a month after Virgin Media O2 surpassed the 8 million home mark in early August to cover more than half of its 15.5 million-home footprint with gigabit speeds. The operator said a gig is now available to two-thirds of the homes it serves.

An operator representative previously told Fierce the upgrades were being achieved through the rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 across its service area. It is aiming to reach all 15.5 million homes with gigabit speeds by the end of 2021, and recently committed to upgrade its entire network to fiber to the premises by 2028.

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The coverage announcement followed the release of Ofcom’s Q1 2021 service provider complaint report, which showed Virgin Media generated 33 home broadband complaints per 100,000 customers, far surpassing an industry average of 19. Fellow broadband providers Vodafone and BT generated 24 and 15 complaints per 100,000 customers, respectively. Virgin Media’s figure was up sharply both sequentially from 23 and year-on-year from 13.

The report homed in on customer service as Virgin Media’s main problem, noting its handling of customer issues drove 39% of complaints against it. Fault, service and provisioning issues were responsible for another 33% of complaints while charging issues accounted for 13%.

For fixed broadband providers overall, 42% of complaints were related to faults, service and provisioning issues, with 27% stemming from their handling of complaints and 14% related to billing pricing and charging issues.