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Virgin Media to offer 100Mbps broadband

Virgin Media plans to roll out a broadband service up of to 100 megabits per second to consumers in the U.K. by the end of 2010.

Virgin Media plans to roll out a broadband service that tops out at 100 megabits per second to residential customers by the end of the year.

The company said Thursday that it will use its fiber-based network to deliver the new high speeds. Virgin Media, which provides broadband, TV, phone and/or mobile phone service to roughly 4.1 million homes across the U.K., currently offers 10Mbps, 20Mbps, and 50Mbps tiers of broadband service. And soon it will be delivering 100Mbps, the company said.

The company says the 100Mbps service will allow users to download a music album in as little as five seconds, an hour-long TV show in 31 seconds, and a high-definition movie in roughly seven minutes. The company claims this is significantly faster than the time it would take a person using the fastest speeds from slower services.

"There is nothing we can't do with our fibre optic cable network, and the upcoming launch of our flagship 100Mb service will give our customers the ultimate broadband experience," Virgin Media's CEO Neil Berkett said in a statement.

In some places, the company says it will be able to boost speeds even faster than 100Mbps. Also on Thursday the company announced it will extend testing of a 200Mbps service to other parts of the U.K. It announced the initial test in May 2009.

In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission is also hoping that broadband providers will boost speeds to 100Mbps. Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he is challenging U.S. Internet service providers to offer 100Mbps to 100 million homes within the next 10 years. He is making this goal a part of the National Broadband Plan that will be presented to Congress next month.

The FCC has been encouraging "test beds" where these ultra high-speed broadband networks can be tested. Google has already announced it plans to launch experimental ultra-high speed networks to test new applications. Rumors have also floated around that Cisco Systems, the company which makes the routers and switches that power the Internet, will make a big announcement on March 9 about a similar type of test bed.