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Virgin Media turning around?
Monday 05 November 2007 12:10:48 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media is still bumping along its rocky road, with Citigroup forecasting a decline of about 31,000 customers in the third quarter. While this does not sound good it is an improvement on the second quarter when 70,000 left. Gazing into the crystal ball the estimate is that Virgin Media may gain around 45,000 customers in the fourth quarter. Visit The Times for more detail.

DigitalSpy.co.uk last week had some interesting news from when Malcolm Wall the Virgin Media content chief talked to Brand Republic.

"We are bandwidth constrained. We have enhanced head ends for HD channels. But the main focus with HD is [video on demand] and it's our belief there is an appetite for HD film. However, we hope to add HD channels on a selective basis."

Malcolm Wall (CEO, Content), Virgin Media

The question is if they are constrained for bandwidth to provide HD content, are they also constrained with respect to broadband capacity? If the answer is yes, then launching a 50Mbps broadband service may be a folly too far if it results in more congestion or heavier traffic management than is currently in place.

If what seems to be a growing reputation for poor broadband performance continues at Virgin Media, and sign-ups to their premium 20Mbps and 50Mbps services do not take up, it could be bad news for the state of broadband nationally. Why? Simply put investors looking to see if the market is ready to pay a premium for significantly faster broadband may be put off by what seems to be low levels of interest. Investment in true next generation broadband that pushes fibre closer to the consumer is a chicken and egg situation; investors looking for demand to make the investment worthwhile and early adopters waiting for a service to appear that meets their needs.

Comments

Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
That's the Citigroup that is about to write off $11 billion because they didn't foresee the collapse of the subprime market, yes? Next "analyst", please.

Weren't NTL doing a trial of high speed DSL (VDSL?) for "on demand" content, at one time? NTL customers already have a short phone line between customer premises and streetcorner box (whether it's active for phone service is irrelevant), and fibre from there to HQ. (Is http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/i/2557.html the right one?). If NTL can't make the economics work, with their history of financial magick, who can?
Posted by hoodamanny over 9 years ago
Virgin fails on all 2 Reqs that keep people on their service, the only thing keeping them there is the threat of legal action if customers cancel their contract.
1. give them what the pay for
2. Support when it breaks down
1. Most people complaining are paying for 10mb and getting 2mb
2. Acompany with such HUGE debt means that some exchanges don't have enough bandwidth for their customers
3. Customers forced to pay 25p per minute, for bad tech support

Trust me, its not the tv service that’s making people jump of this titanic
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
did all the debt not vanish when NTL used the USA's competitive advantage - Chapter 11 bankruptcy - to lose it all ?

Reading further into it I thought the set top boxes were a bigger constraint on HD than the bandwidth.
Posted by monty1158 over 9 years ago
Virgin failed for me on:
1. HD content: One FTA channel, and the VoD HD content hadn't changed since the days of Telewest (So I can't blame Virgin on that one!), so it got boring. The HD films were priced higher than the SD version, so why buy the HD one? In all that time, not one peep about new HD content or how they were taking it forward.

2. Broadband: Overpriced in today's market for 2Mb. Network was brilliant until Virgin, then it went south. Big time. Too many faults, so little time.
Posted by monty1158 over 9 years ago
3. Support: From UK based, superb, support to a foreign call centre with terrible VoIP connection that made all voices sound like Kermit through a reverb box. Made me feel like I sounded like a xenophobe (Or worse) purely because I spent so much time saying "I'm sorry?" after every question, which generally went "Reverb-silence-reverb-pop-reverb?"
Posted by monty1158 over 9 years ago
4. BB Support: The ultimate kick in the teeth. 25p pm, plus 10p connection fee to report a fault with your connection, whilst someone keeps you online as long as possible to maximise their profit. "No, I haven't tried a reboot. There's no point. Your modem went bang, there's no lights, and a smell of ozone. Why won't you listen?" I kid you not.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Simply put investors looking to see if the market is ready to pay a premium for significantly faster broadband may be put off by what seems to be low levels of interest."
Not this old BS chestnut again... the 20Mb service from virgin already costs almost double what a LLU upto 24Mb service costs and along with virgins premium rate support that argument is complete BS, it it were true nobody in their right mind would ever sign to virgin.... but they have.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
All people want in simple terms is what a company promises... I wouldnt give a flying pig if i were paying 100 quid 200 or even 1000 a month for 50Mb or 100Mb broadband as long as thats excactly what i was getting, what pees people off is when they are paying a premium price for a service as slow as constipation and support staff that think congestion is related to public transport only and nothing to do with broadband. Also if im paying a premium price i expect premium speed not virgins imaginary description for the word "premium".
Posted by 2doorsbob over 9 years ago
virgin certianly have a lot of work to do but just to point out if the fault lies with them they will credit the cost of the call to your account
Posted by jrawle over 9 years ago
And how often do they admit it was there fault? Few companies will do that. When my connection slows until it's almost unusable, I want to be able to ask why. I know they won't admit it's them, and they probably will never even know what the problem was. There's no way I'm going to pay several pounds to have someone tell me to reboot the modem and the computer. In effect, I no longer have support for my service.
Posted by jrawle over 9 years ago
Apologies for the typo: obviously it's "their fault". One error I can't blame on my connection!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"virgin certianly have a lot of work to do but just to point out if the fault lies with them they will credit the cost of the call to your account"

oh woopy doopy doo..... Personally id tell em where to stick there refund for the call and their faulty service they have the nerve to charge for right up their..........
Maybe in other service industrys we should all pay the waterboard to poison us and then kindly accept their offer to pay for a pack of 20p paracetamol when we are ill.... DOH!
Posted by mcbazza over 9 years ago
I know this article alludes towards their Cable customers. But, who would like to look first-hand at what life is like (speed/latency/loss) for their ADSL customers?
http://bazza.dyndns.org/rrdstats/baz14all.cgi?p=1w

Note how when speed is inversely proportional to latency (latency increases, massively, at times when the infrastructure is severely overloaded).
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
If VM have decided that their broadband infrastructure is their biggest asset then surely it is time for OFCOM to shout "SMP" and require them to offer wholesale services to retail ISPs that don't have the toxic customer services reputation of VM.
Posted by me7057092 over 9 years ago
50meg service... i'd be excited to get 0.5meg from VM :(
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"If VM have decided that their broadband infrastructure is their biggest asset then surely it is time for OFCOM to shout "SMP" and require them to offer wholesale services to retail ISPs that don't have the toxic customer services reputation of VM."

LMAO yeah thats all we need them flogging their pants over subbed service to other ISPs to flog to more consumers that will obviously be unhappy with it LOL
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Andrew VM are not a good way of measuring interest for high speed products, VM now have a reputation of throttling users and of course there is a major difference between a proper 50mbit connection and a throttled 50mbit connection. Add to that VM have a poor reputation for other aspects of service as well such as tech support.
Posted by brett7 over 9 years ago
I've had awful customer service from Virgin Media (3 months from installation of the phone to having a dial-tone and inadequate compensation for the delay, repeated confusion over account details, 50+ phone calls I shouldn't have had to make, failure to carry out work, repeated no-shows by engineers, conflicting reports on repair status, etc). If I leave Virgin, how are industry analysts to know it was because of the customer service, not the technical performance? (Doesn't this make most of the analysis flawed?)

Posted by fox-uk over 9 years ago
Our experience of the 'overseas support' led to a complaint based on the 'Disability Discrimination Act' and Race Relations Acts.
Virgin are trying to sort out the mess of NTL.
They need to move their call centre back to the UK.
The 25p a minute for support' is refundable 'if they are at fault' but not surprisingly their call centre staff 'forget' to do this.
Once your complaint is transfered to the UK you will get great service.
Posted by alcrawford over 9 years ago
I left ntl: two years ago but was told only a few weeks ago that I still had an account with them. I only discovered this as I finally decided to ring and speak to someone about the "you have our broadband, why don't you add the tv and phone'' marketing gumph I get on almost a weekly basis. No transactions have taken place on said account but have now been promised it is closed and mailshots will cease. Maybe I'm one of the 31,000. How many more 'dead' accounts are they still holding on to?
Posted by radgar93 over 9 years ago
the folks at VM are good when it comes to helping. It sometimes takes a few goes to achieve understanding of what's going on. Once this is done help usually follows. The BB service is poor. I have the alleged 20mbps service. It took several weeks to get this and I now find that most days I get <2mbps. And this is without much p2p action.
Posted by mrDee over 9 years ago
Im a Blueyonder cust now virgin media and subscribe to the 20Mb seervice which verges from piss poor to total bollox sevice is slow to almost a halt when the ankle biters are not at school or back from nicking cars joyriding shooting up etc or tucked up in bed usually 3am till 5.30 am I peak at approx half the advertised speed... yes I p2p so I think they throttle back at peak times but 22 out of 24 is taking the piss.
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