* Launching 50 Mb trial in Berkshire village
* Identified 1 mln homes which could benefit from technology
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LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - British cable operator Virgin Media VMED.OVMED.L is testing a new technology to deliver ultrafast broadband over telegraph poles which could allow it to extend its reach to another 1 million homes.
Virgin, which is looking to cement its advantage in delivering faster broadband over slower copper-based rivals, said it was launching a trial in a Berkshire village to deliver 50 Mb broadband along with its television service.
Virgin Media has already announced plans to extend its fibre optic network by 500,000 new homes. It currently passes 12.6 million homes with an underground network and said it had identified more than 1 million homes in parts of Britain which could benefit from deployment over telegraph poles.
“This unique trial will allow us to understand the possibilities of aerial deployment and may provide an exciting new way to extend next generation broadband services,” Chief Executive Neil Berkett said.
Virgin said the government was considering a change in planning guidelines which would be needed to enable large scale overhead deployment.
It believes the combination of overhead poles and underground ducts could enable Virgin to roll-out next-generation digital services to rural communities, a key demand by the government. (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Paul Sandle)