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Virgin Media to listen to CLA concerns
Wednesday 15 February 2012 16:21:25 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media received criticism from the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) when it announced its network improvement programme, that would offer faster speeds and improve network capacity in the areas that Virgin Media has its cable broadband network. The CLA claimed that Virgin Media was ignoring the rural areas, interestingly while Virgin Media has indicated that its door is open to look at solutions their statement on ISPreview makes it clear what the real problem is.

"Our doors have always been open to the CLA and other groups to try to find solutions to the problem of poor connectivity in rural areas. We have invested over £13 billion of private money in building our network to half the country and, while we continue to expand our reach, we are doing so within our own means."

Virgin Media spokesperson talking to

The £13 billion is the cost of getting the cable networks to where they stand now, and while no massive expansion program is under way, there are infills and upgrades to analogue networks adding more homes. Additionally Virgin Media backed the Fujitsu FTTH announcement back in 2011, that may see BDUK money delivering fibre to homes in areas where they win the contract. Alas it seems the sums have not stacked up for this solution, resulting in some parts of the UK having Openreach as the sole bidder.

One aspect many appear to have not fully grasped is that the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment, imposes no requirement on any provider to provide service. Also no definition of what is affordable has been announced, so a provider offering a 2 Mbps USC service in rural areas could simply charge the real cost of providing the service per property. The Universal Service Obligation that does exist only applies to BT (and KCOM in the Hull area) simply requires a telephone line, and support for a 28 Kbps data connection.

The big question is how much are those living in the most rural ten per cent of the UK willing to pay for a superfast connection that is comparable to what is available in the cities. The message from all political parties has been clear, in that funding is available to assist commercial roll-outs, but no total underwriting of the capital cost for 100% superfast broadband coverage is on the agenda at this time.


Posted by weesteev over 5 years ago
Another QUANGO shouting about something they have no idea about. Shows how out of touch they are really.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Eh? It doesn't receive any funds from UKgov.
It's a NFP VO rural business, professionals and land owners representation organisation.
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 5 years ago
I know of households (villages) near me in the middle of nowhere where lined broadband is zilch and chug along at 14mbps up and down; I the think CLA need to learn what to do with barn doors!
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
Virgin are doing almost no infills.

Virgin do need to expand their network there is only so far they can go with upselling to existing customers

Maybe the Open Network with Fujitsu is how they see the way forward to expand.

If they can use the BT ducts to infill and build out their existing coverage it could be quite low cost as all they would need to do is to put Fibre in from the BT cabinet to the VM Cabinet
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
The Open Network, we've not seen much on that front for many months, apart from that little trial is anything actually happen?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Bob that's not how PIA works. Cabs would not be accessed. Just ducts or pole for deployment.

More importantly VM won't expand further, because they are at the limit of SMP. If they expand significantly further they'll have SMP and will be required to wholesale.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
I was going to say, that isn't PIA, they just get a sub duct to he home/pole back to the exchange where the service can be handed over and its up to them what they put in the sub duct, they can't daisy chain off the back of BT cabinets or even link into VM cabinets, its just from the premises back to the exchange to their own equipment.
Posted by hfctech99 over 5 years ago
VM would happily cable out to rural areas, as long as somebody else picks up the cost, or at least the majority, of the capital spend.Think about it-if it costs £100,000 to kit out a village of 500 people,at a penetration rate of 50%, each paying £30 a month.That's a payback of about 15 years!
People need to wake up to the reality here-either get together as a co-op and make it happen yourself, get together funds for someone else to do it, or wait for BT.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
For whatever reason VM hasnt got the spending power BT has, this year they have managed to turn a small profit and thats on the back of introducing protocol shaping to restrict capacity investment. I cant see how they would fund a expansion without massive borrowing.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
BT isn't exactly rolling in it, its had billions of debt for years and still has. You can't afford to stop still in this game. It is very tricky for VM though. If they don't expand I think the competition will just hurt them even more, if they do expand they take on more debt.

Up until now if you wanted high speed broadband you went Virgin, no other option. That isn't the case anymore more and more ISP's are offering FTTC
Posted by Michael_Chare over 5 years ago
So how much would BT need to charge for broadband in the most rural 10% to make it economically viable?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Michael, to get fibre to some of the most remote areas can cost many thousands of pounds. Its not the monthly charge that is the problem it is the upfront installation costs.

Some of these areas are just one home in the middle of nowhere, they are not easy to reach with any utility
Posted by otester over 5 years ago

On top of that the customer may use another ISP, not BT Retail further money lost.

Also I got a quote for a leased line installation cost to me house, 4km from the exchange, came to £65k, 1.5x the cost of my house.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Yeah I thought about that otester but it shouldn't be relevant. Openreach who are doing the work will want paying regardless whether the customer pays it all in one go via their ISP or in bits they (OR) still need paying upfront by the ISP.
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