Virgin Media on Wednesday began an Ashford, UK trial of what it says is the fastest cable-based Internet service on Earth. Using a high-end implementation of the DOCSIS 3 cable modem standard, the carrier says it's offering 200Mbps downloads to 100 testers; the speed is faster than 160Mbps Japanese service and twice as fast as the 101Mbps Optimum Online service in the US. The bandwidth is said sustainably high enough that Virgin is testing streaming 3D and HD video online.
Tests are expected to last 6 months and are being used both to verify service quality as well as to test Virgin's options for what else it can do with the much faster Internet access. It's not specified how soon regular Virgin customers would have access to the 200Mbps tier if the trial proves successful.
DOCSIS 3 achieves the higher speeds primarily by bonding cable channels together, multiplying the theoretical bandwidth in both directions. It often requires conceding regular TV channels but is also an inexpensive upgrade for most providers.