Does Virgin Media have any tricks up its sleeve?
For a good many years Virgin Media has been the king of download speeds, but even with the prospect of a 152 Mbps connection as its top tier it seems that people are not rushing headlong to signup.
The latest set of financial figures show that Virgin Media (now part of Liberty Global) has 4,510,500 broadband customers (4,375,700 cable and 134,800 ADSL), which is an increase of 22,500 compared to the previous quarter. The cable broadband sector showed reasonable growth of 38,400 but this was offset by people leaving the off-net ADSL product which Virgin Media has stopped selling now.
In terms of speed while Virgin Media offers very fast products there are still 26% of its cable broadband customers on a slower than 30 Mbps product. Though with new sign-ups over half are apparently signing up for a 60 Mbps or faster product.
In terms of broadband appeal we suspect that it is the relatively low upload speeds of the cable broadband services that are holding many people back and the confusion arising from the two words 'traffic management'. While VDSL2 is limited due to the physics of signal attenuation, even at a distance of 1km from the fibre cabinet the upload speed of VDSL2 can match or exceed the Virgin Media 60 Mbps service.
The question really now is what can Virgin Media do beyond pushing headline speeds, increasing their cable footprint and pro-actively chasing agreements to cable up new build estates would boost their figures we suspect, but these are dependent on what level of investment Liberty Global wants to make. Real innovation would see Virgin Media starting to deploy a pure fibre network for new build premises, stealing the march from the BT Group which scaled back its own original plans for FTTP roll-out.