Virgin Media has published details of its performance for Q4/2006 on their investor centre.
The main broadband figures indicate there were 78,100 net additions of broadband customers in the quarter. Virgin.net referred to in the report as the 'Off-net' business added 18,000 customers bringing its total to 260,800 connected via ADSL services.
The most interesting facts for those that don't hold any Virgin Media shares is the news on new products is that the 20 Mbps cable broadband service is due to launch in June 2007 and a residential trial of a 50 Mbps service is on the way. For areas where Virgin Media does not have its own cable network, they are in the process of securing an agreement with a wholesale local loop unbundling provider, with the aim of launching a quad-play product (broadband, TV, landline and mobile) without massive capital investment.
This year should also see the launch of a Digital Terrestrial TV set top box, which in 2008 will make use of an IPTV service that will include paid for broadcast channels and Video on Demand (VoD) for people outside cable areas and on unbundled exchanges.
At the press launch of Virgin Media the planned 97% coverage for quad-play was a key point, but it seems unlikely that we will ever see a LLU provider unbundling that many exchanges, especially by November 2007 as was hinted at the launch. We believe that in 2007 for those not on the existing cable networks the TV component of any quad-play package will initially revolve around the Freeview set-top box service, with a limited number of people getting the IPTV component in 2007. This is likely to expand more in 2008. Most LLU providers are aiming for a 70% coverage figure during 2007 so other options such as Datastream may be used to provide quad-play on the smaller exchanges where unbundling does not make financial sense. It should also be noted that with the new wholesale broadband products as part of the BT 21st Century Network (21CN), IPTV may become more economic across the BT IP network using the various options that Wholesale Broadband Connect (wBBC) provides.
Virgin Media has also been openly criticising Sky for its alleged attempts to make Virgin's offering less competitive on the triple play market. In the latest press release on the subject it is going into detail on its objections to being requested to agree to a higher minimum spend on Sky TV services as well as a higher cost of the basic channels such as Sky News and Sky One.