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Virgin Media plumps for expansion as take-up saturates in existing footprint
Wednesday 06 August 2014 09:33:57 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media may not have had the most impressive quarters results due to its cable broadband subscriber base shrinking by 300 (for the quarter ending 30th June 2014, but the operator is not giving up and is looking to expansion of its network footprint to win new customers for its TV, broadband and telephone services.

Virgin Media has been doing some minor expansion for a while with its footprint growing from 12,490,000 homes passed in 2013 to 12,539,700 currently. The news of an extra 100,000 premises that will obtain access to up to 152 Mbps broadband and TV services will be welcomed by those in the areas which are Bethnal Green, Isle of Dogs, Newham and West Ham, further expansion into homes in Stratford, Poplar, Stepney, Bow and East Ham will follow.

"London is earning a reputation for being the Tech capital of Europe and that is why we need to ensure every Londoner is able to access superfast broadband services. It has become a utility that every Londoner expects and this latest expansion is a further welcome step towards making that aim a reality. Improving the connectivity of this great city will be a key part of the Infrastructure Plan for London that my team will be consulting on over the remainder of this summer."

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson

Of course lots of properties (but not all) in these areas will have access to FTTC via Openreach and people are likely to be in 12 or 18 month contracts which will introduce some lag into the speed of sign-ups. The question will be whether people value the higher upload speeds of FTTC services compared to the faster download speeds of cable broadband.

Virgin Media has 4,596,200 broadband customers, 108,700 are the old Virgin Media National ADSL network who are shrinking in number fast, 12,000 left in the last quarter. Some 2.1 million cable customers (47%) are now on the 50 Mbps or faster services and this should grow as the upgrade programme moves on. The demand for ultra-fast speeds is evidenced by 15% of new customers signing up to the fastest 152 Mbps service, and 40% joining on the 100 Mbps or faster tier. Whether is people buying according to their broadband needs, or good marketing is unknown.

Strangely Virgin Media is attempting to redefine 'superfast speeds' as meaning 50 Mbps or faster, which will muddy the already confused situation where Ofcom and UK Government use a figure of 24 Mbps and the European Union in its Digital Agenda plans have stuck with 30 Mbps for a few years now.

The expansion of Virgin Media will be interesting to watch, but the wider picture is about what the Mayor of London is going to do about those areas of London where commercial operators have shown little interest to date, and landlords charging expensive wayleave or refusing to agree, thus stopping people and businesses getting services.

Update 10am We enquired about the situation with regards to flats in the expansion area, and Virgin Media has replied quickly to say yes flats will be included in the expansion and some will be sizeable blocks of flats too.

Comments

Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
Andrew - do we know if a 'home passed' by Virgin has more meaning than by BT?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
It has the same meaning as in the rest of the world, i.e. there is a CATV duct with coax in it close to the property, requiring just the final drop into the property. Hence the comment about landlords and wayleaves.
Posted by WalterWillcox over 2 years ago
It is important to realise that the FTTC solution requires an individual port on a line card and an individual twisted pair whereas the VM solution is similar to a common water pipe as anybody along its length can be connected immediately.
Posted by rtho782 over 2 years ago
If only they would infill in areas they already cover. My small street in BS16 5** is not covered, despite everywhere around being covered. I've asked for services but they say it would be too expensive (they failed to grasp that I was suggesting infill, not run one cable just for me).
Posted by WalterWillcox over 2 years ago
Furthermore VM usually provide sufficient power to the "pipe" to reach the far end at adequate speeds, whereas a twisted pair's speed drops quite dramatically with distance as cross-talk limitations inhibit power increases. On long poorly performing FTTC circuits the upload speed is sometimes no faster than it was on an ADSL service. I suspect VM speeds behave in a more consistent way albeit there are sometimes contention-like speed reductions.
Posted by chefbyte over 2 years ago
Wayleave is my problem, i have 3 VM cabs near me but VM will not connect it up to the 8 houses on my street and now just found out i'm not getting FTTH either, sad day for me....

WiMax here i go then
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
"It has the same meaning as in the rest of the world" - looks different to me. I.E it's there and available.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@mikejp Well that is the same definition as for FTTP the world uses, and for FTTC a property is reasonable to be counted if available to order from the cabinet it is connected to. I know some disagree with that definition, but its accepted worldwide.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
"I know some disagree" - think 'everyone barring BT and its acolytes' is a better line.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
@mikejp

That's a jolly challenging comment you've made. I suspect andrew might be a little annoyed at being called an acolyte.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
So how does @mikejp define a property as passed by an FTTC service?

Passed does not equal connected, since connected means someone has ordered it.
Posted by generallee94 over 2 years ago
I believe Liberty Global might of been the best thing to happen to Virgin Media, Everything seems to be happening a lot quicker now, The additions of properties and even roads and new build estates in my area of Birmingham has picked up and even re-pulls can be booked and completed within a week now instead of the 1-3 months it used to take.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
"So how does @mikejp define a property as passed by an FTTC service?" - I don't but feel sorry for those 'homes passed' on my exchange who will never see 24Mbps from FTTC.
Posted by mikejp over 2 years ago
.and in the case of dozens, ANY speed on FTTC.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Hence why counties are aiming above 90% in terms of fibre coverage, so that once you add speed qualifications they will hit the 90% with superfast figures.
Posted by fabrettitd over 2 years ago
my virgin media is faster than my FTTC on upload anyway by around 7mbps.
Posted by AndrueC over 2 years ago
"a twisted pair's speed drops quite dramatically with distance as cross-talk limitations inhibit power increases"

Um no. The major case of speed drop with xDSL is that higher frequencies don't travel as far as lower ones. This means that on longer lines fewer frequencies are available.

I'm not even sure that there is a distance component to cross-talk.
Posted by AndrueC over 2 years ago
"It is important to realise that the FTTC solution requires an individual port on a line card and an individual twisted pair"

It is equally important to realise that nearly every habitable property in the country will have a twisted pair. Also that BT seem quite happy to install additional cards and cabinets if local demand requires it.
Posted by AndrueC over 2 years ago
"Furthermore VM usually provide sufficient power to the "pipe" to reach the far end"

Er..no. Coax by its nature is not as lossy as twisted pair. So all frequencies travel further. This allows you to have longer runs of cable without losing as much bandwidth.
Posted by AndrueC over 2 years ago
And the downsides of cable are that everyone's traffic is having to share the same pipe. This introduces an /additional/ level of contention that is simply not present with xDSL. It's a particular problem with the upstream because there's no central control for packet transmission. Some other mechanism has to be used to avoid collisions.

With cable it's a TDMA variant but this has issues because customers further along the cable have to fit in with those closest to the node.
Posted by AndrueC over 2 years ago
TP and coax both have their good and bad points. What would be better than both would be to replace the copper with fibre completely (and I wonder why VM aren't doing that here to future proof it). But that's expensive so for the time being we continue to do what we can with the copper that we have.
Posted by noppix1 over 2 years ago
I was on virgin BB (blue yonder) for over 10 years and it worked like a dream. whilst all my friends had a 30kps connection I was loving 2mb but virgin have not been trying to keep up!.we have had problems with the BB for the last 3 years. the 60mb connection would just stop and it would take over a minute for a basic page to load, 1080p on youtube was impossible as it would just sit at buffer at any time of the day. it took them 2 years to admit it was a overutilization of resources issue with constant lie after lie.
Posted by noppix1 over 2 years ago
one day they tell the truth "our network can not keep up" but more lies then come saying they are going to upgrade the UBR in your area, This went on for a year!. In the end I got fed up I could not game on my PC, the netflix would just stop and any HD on youtube just did not even start. I moved to BT VDSL2 6 months ago an life has been very good. the cab is around 160 meters away and i get 73 down and 18 up. Virgin keep increasing there speed on a service that is over subscribed and now there going to expand!.
Posted by noppix1 over 2 years ago
Fix the problemd first and then move forward. Had a lot of problems with there Tivo tv service too so I moved to sky. I love VSDL2 and I love SKY!. This is my own experience with virgin media and not the opinion of TBB.
Posted by noppix1 over 2 years ago
i`m in wolverhampton
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