Virgin reins in ambitions for off-net customers
Virgin Media has had a rough nine months and this is continuing as plans for TV over broadband in the areas where Virgin Media customers only have access to broadband over telephone lines are to be delayed until 2009.
At the press launch of Virgin Media, much was made of the uniqueness of their quad-play services and eventual expansion of this to cover 97% of UK households. As the year progressed, this looked to be happening when a deal was signed with C&W to use their wholesale network services. This weeks Sunday Times seems to suggest that the TV over broadband for Virgin Media customers who are off-net, i.e. not on the cable network, has been shelved until 2009.
Concentrating limited resources on the cable broadband network may be a good thing for cable users, but if this leads to under investment in the remaining half of the UK then the Virgin Media brand may still suffer from a poor reputation. A radical suggestion perhaps, but if Virgin Media wants to make its broadband products excel, perhaps it is time to find a buyer for its off-net business.
Richard Branson whom many consumers view as a good pair of hands in business terms is making moves on Northern Rock with promises of paying back some £11bn of the £25bn borrowed to keep it running. Just maybe this sort of investment in Virgin Media could keep a company that provides a real alternative to the BT local loop to half the country the ability to rebuild its reputation that has suffered in the last nine months.