With the confirmation of Neil Berkett as CEO of Virgin Media after some eight months as the interim CEO we may see Virgin Media starting to crank up a gear.
Virgin Media has had a rocky time since its creation and the largest shareholder Richard Branson, while very present at the launch, appears to be taking a back seat in the way the business is moving forward. This may work in Neil Berkett's favour since he started the 'focus on broadband' rather than trying to take on all comers, as he has more freedom to push the business down the path he believes is right.
Bloomberg.com has some interesting comments from an analyst at the Charles Stanley Group.
"Virgin Media is really struggling. They face tremendous competition not only from Sky but in broadband from other competitors."Sam Hart, analyst at Charles Stanley Group
Interestingly the issue of cable broadband being delivered over fibre optic cables raises itself again, one begins to wonder if there are people who do think Virgin Media is a fibre to the home architecture. At best it is a fibre to the cabinet architecture, with the last 1000 feet or so delivered over metallic co-ax cable. With the right levels of investment in upgrading the network and providing sufficient peak capacity, Virgin Media does have the ability to consistently outperform any ADSL2+ provider at present. The big question is whether this can be done at a price point that is attractive to the consumer.
Challenges over the next couple of years are likely to be sub-loop unbundling which could see ADSL2+ on much shorter twisted pair lengths, and if VDSL2 starts to appear the speed crown will be at serious risk. Look forward another year or two and fledgling full fibre networks may be emerging too. Staying ahead of BT and its retail or wholesale products used to be enough but with the varied competition out there others like Telefonica (Be/02) need to watched closely.