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Virgin Media sticks Richard Branson in a box!
Thursday 08 February 2007 16:56:28 by Andrew Ferguson

ntl:Telewest and Virgin.net have today merged into the Virgin Media group. The initial launch has produced a number of bundles for users able to get a Virgin Media cable service, based around a series of 2 for £20, 3 for £30 and 4 for £40 packages. There is a VIP package that gives the best of everything and weighs in at £85 per month.

Bundle

Bundle Price per month

Phone(M) + TV(L) £20
Phone(M) + Broadband(M) £20
Broadband(M) + TV(L) £20
Phone(M) + TV(L) + Broadband(M) £30
Phone(M) + TV(L) + Mobile £30
Phone(M) + Broadband(M) + Mobile £30
TV(L) + Broadband(M) + Mobile £30
TV(L) + Phone(M) + Broadband(M) + Mobile £40
TV(XL) + Phone(XL) + Broadband(XL) + Mobile ("VIP") £85
(Virgin Media Packages; Full details; The letters in brackets refer to Medium, Large and Extra Large)

In broadband terms the Medium packages include an 2 Mbps service, Large packages a 4 Mbps service and XL packages include a 10 Mbps product. The VIP (Very Impressive Package) package comprises the XL product from each category, a Virgin Mobile service for £85 a month giving you Sky Sports & Movies, the V+ HD DVR (High Definition Digital Video Recorder), and another standard V box for another room. For those that want everything Virgin Media can offer including a Lobster 700 TV phone there is a £125 a month deal named 'VIP Complete' as well. Also it is possible to upgrade individual packages for an additional fee (e.g. to a Large broadband service). Details of all the packages are here.

The product line for those not in a former ntl:Telewest cabled area is very different at present:

  • Up to 8 Mbps broadband and Talk Evening & Weekends £14.99:
    Unlimited downloads subject to fair use policy, PC Guard security pack for PC users, inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK 01 & 02 numbers, free ADSL modem, optional wireless kit for £40.
  • Up to 8 Mbps broadband and Talk Anytime £19.99:
    Same as £14.99 package, but calls are inclusive at anytime.
  • Up to 1 Mbps broadband £14.99:
    Unlimited downloads subject to fair use policy, PC Guard security package for PC users, free modem, optional wireless kit for £40.
  • Up to 8 Mbps broadband £17.99:
    As for £14.99 broadband only package, but an up to 8Mbps connection.

The ADSL packages above do not include telephone line rental, which costs £11 from BT Retail (other line rental deals are available). If you don't know which services are available to you, Virgin Media have a postcode checker at www.virginmedia.com/checkyourpostcode.

All Virgin Media cable broadband products while advertised as unlimited downloads are subject to a fair use policy, though the policy does not clearly set out what sort of usage is considered unfair. The situation is different for the Virgin Broadband ADSL products, the Acceptable Use Policy gives a 40GB (GigaByte) guidance limit (detailed here). The 40GB figure is not a cut-off point when the connection will stop working but customers using in excess of this amount may receive a warning email and letter.

The launch is much more than just a rebrand, but the beginnings of another large media company. Virgin.net has been offering ADSL services across the country and Virgin Media plans to extend its four-play services to the whole country with the aim of 97% coverage. This is not going to be met by a massive cable network build programme but rather utilisation of existing copper network infrastructure from Openreach although no firm details are available on any roll-out plans as yet. The aim is to get all four core Virgin Media services available to everyone within the intended coverage by around November 2007, though the TV service may take a little longer to become a fully stable product.

NTL and to a lesser extent Telewest have not had a brilliant customer service record but the press launch stressed the improvements made in the last year, for example 300 new staff to answer the telephones, reductions in call waiting time, and thirty new staff to train support staff. One side effect of these improvements has been improved staff retention rates in the call centres which should hopefully mean customers will get better help when they contact the company.

So while the big launch has now taken place, the changes are only just starting and will continue as the company brings new products to the market. The main competitor would appear to be Sky who has its own triple-play products, so we may see a head to head competition, and while very often the cheapest player will win, we hope that this will not come at the cost of considerations such as product quality and customer service.

Update 5:20pm: Update to reflect acceptable use policy for Virgin Broadband services not running on the cable network.

Comments

Posted by fenlandbroadband over 10 years ago
"though the policy does not clearly set out whether 10GB, 100GB or 1000GB is considered excessive, which is pretty common throughout the broadband industry." - The level is 40GB/month, as detailed in the FAQ at http://www.virgin.net/allyours/faqs/broadband_faqs.html - click on "Virgin Broadband usage allowance guide" and then "What is the Acceptable Use Policy?" and it gives details of the level.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 10 years ago
Thanks, I had missed that and will update the news item. I believe this only applies to the off-net services (i.e. Virgin.net)
Posted by semo1 over 10 years ago
1...why are there 2 £14.99 broadband packages. also, an 8mbit unlimited package for £17.99 (£14.99?) seems a bit low even with a 40gb fup. i smell traffic shaping (if it's dsl max).

2...from the old ntl/tw sites it looked like tw had higher upload speeds than ntl (not sure if that is the reality) so what will happen to tw customers' upload speeds?
Posted by semo1 over 10 years ago
3...nd:i'm pretty sure that there is no one who doesn't take copper phone lines for granted and i think most would prefer an alternative that delivers better features and/or is cheaper. to the consumer this merger is about as useful as a chocolate teapot since virgin is not planning on a nationwide cable roll out. ntl and sky were essentially competing technologies and this merger changes nothing (just brings virgin more money because they offer more services now)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 10 years ago
Virgin Media non-cable network did announce intentions to start to offer its four-play products to people with just copper telephone lines. While the TV service will be more limited than the cable network, the plan seems to be for VirginCentral, the VoD service to be available to 97% of households in the UK.
Posted by semo1 over 10 years ago
ntl/virgin can/will deliver all sorts of services to people outside cable coverage and no one is disputing that but since they're not using their own network, it just makes them another superfluous "competitor". the list of uk isps is pretty long but is there any real competition (when it comes to real choices, there are only few).
Posted by lierobs over 10 years ago
I'd be happier if virgin concentrated on making their broadband service reliable before expanding or adding anymore services. Doesn't work from 4pm-1am.
Posted by Royf over 10 years ago
How Virgin Media have the nerve to advertise "Blistering speeds" when they can only supply a half meg or less in the evening on an up to 8 meg line beats me. I think they are living in cloud cukoo land.
Posted by cjyounguk over 10 years ago
Same cloud cuckoo land as Orange, where my 2Meg connection rarely offers more than 100k between 4 and 10pm. and on bad days has been clocked at 52k and 76k!
Posted by kitkatnodogs over 10 years ago
Living in Edinburgh I must be very lucky. I must be about 8-10 miles from the telewest center, and being on the 4Mb download I never fall below 3.7Mb. also if you talk to customer services you can often negotitate a package. I get my 4Mb for the price of 2Mb.
Posted by karlitza over 9 years ago
Disgusted- mother 82 joined May 2007 still no broadband,wishes she had never bothered.No reply to recorded delivery no sympathy from telephone staff. Except one kind gent who told her to go and get a certain cable from PC World.!!!!
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