Virgin Media has been well known for its drive in consumer broadband, pushing the boundaries of speed with its 50 meg broadband service which has now been running for over a year. Whilst it re-branded the NTL and Telewest consumer cable services to Virgin Media, it retained its ntl:Telewest Business brand for its b2b services.
Today, the company announced the final stage of unifying its brand by bringing the ntl:Telewest Business arm within the main Virgin Media group as "Virgin Media Business".
In response to a query from a member of the press about the synergy of the 'Virgin' brand which was mainly seen as a consumer entertainment or 'fun' brand and the demands of businesses for more defined service levels, Richard Branson responded that "business should be fun" and that offering high levels of service was a key component across the Virgin group. Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media also added that use of the Virgin brand for any service required certain service levels to be met. The company believes that the b2b business is now ready to be part of the main Virgin brand and that by joining it up it will benefit from the increased brand awareness, and in particular allow it to compete better for contracts within larger corporations and the public sector. It also admitted that its customers' expectations in terms of service levels were likely to rise. Mark Heraghty, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business suggested that its initial focus would be to expand its customer base to cover larger corporations and the public sector, but that in due course they may be looking to expand further into the small business market.
When quizzed about broadband availability, Neil Berkett accepted that government funding of some sort would be needed to increase broadband coverage in some of the areas which he described as 'outside [VM's] natural footprint'. He expressed support for the policy proposed by the Conservative Party to re-allocate the current 3.5% of the TV License Fee currently reserved for digital switchover, to fund next generation broadband in these hard-to-reach areas.
Responding to a query about whether this would mean Virgin Mobile entering the business space, the company indicated that it was more likely that they would look to establish a partnership rather than setting up as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) as in the consumer business.
The benefits of this re-branding will not be immediately obvious, although it is logical for the company to ensure its marketing expenditure benefits all areas of its business. We believe that Virgin's network is a unique asset which it has only begun to exploit fully in recent years, although we are certain there is much more still ahead.