VIRGIN Media has announced that it has now completed its fibre optic cable roll out in Southampton, claiming the city is now the best connected in the UK.

Southampton was chosen by Virgin Media as the first region to receive 100 megabytes per second service, giving residents and businesses a lead on other conurbations.

Eighty thousand homes and business in the city and wider region, including Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford, are now passed by the cables.

And Virgin reports tens of thousands of customers have now signed up to receive their services.

Virgin Media’s director of public affairs, Tony Pilch, said: “It has been a great success. Our plan was to give the residents of Southampton a unique service, providing the first city-wide 100 megabytes per second service and we’re delighted with the results.

“Our research showed that it was Southampton that was best likely to grasp the potential and possibilities created by this kind of service, and so far we have been proved correct in that assumption.”

Work on laying cables throughout the city started in October 2011 taking in first the Shirley, Bitterne and Harefield areas. The final sections in Eastleigh were completed recently.

“There are a few pockets of homes and businesses that we could target if requested, but the project has reached its set target for the time being,” added Mr Pilch.

The download speeds provided by the new cabling means users can now use high speeds to access TV and Internet services at much greater speeds than previously.

A music album can now be downloaded in minutes as opposed to half an hour when broadband was first introduced.

Film-lovers can now stream a movie to their appliances in less than five minutes.

“But it is businesses where the nettle appears to have been grasped the most, added Mr Pilch.

“The benefits for business customers are obvious. The speed at which material can be transferred at such a faster pace is what is interesting companies and their clients,” he said.

Virgin Media is targeting Southampton again as one of its chosen cities for a fact-finding mission backed by founder Sir Richard Branson.

The Big Red Box will be part of an initiative from the media company to explore how customers are reacting to the digital age and what they want to see in the future.

Mr Pilch said: “Having dug up all these roads and laid all this cable to create, what we believe, is a richer life for people, we want to make sure we understand what that really means. That’s why we are asking people, families, singles, all ages, what they hope for, are concerned about, imagine a digital future will be.”

p The Big Red Box will be at Bargate Markets, Bargate Southampton, tomorrow from 10am to 4pm. More details at ourdigitalfuture.