Virgin Media growing as Project Lightning expands
The latest set of results from Virgin Media via its parent group Liberty Global reveal a change in Internet subscribers of an extra 56,100 once you strip back all the financial jargon.
The growth to 4,808,000 broadband customers is attributed in part to the expansion that Project Lightning is driving where apparently take-up is going to plan and we can confirm that we are seeing take-up in areas where the expansion project is underway. Of course always difficult to know the reasons for people switching, for some it may be a chance to access subscription TV without a satellite dish, or finally getting access to all the FreeView channels after having avoided an aerial upgrade for years, the hope though is that this is people crying out for ultrafast broadband and thus reflects pent up demand for speeds in excess of what VDSL2 can offer.
In terms of what appeals 49% to the public of Virgin Media broadband customers are now on a 100 Mbps or faster connection speed (the 49% is a figure from the combined UK and Eire operations which has 5.2 million customers). Interestingly when we look at the profile of speed test users, for Q2/2016 only 11% recorded speeds above 100 Mbps and the effect of wireless can be partly accounted for by removing tablet and mobiles which increases this figure to 14% (so clearly Wi-Fi issues do have an impact - 40% of tests were via a mobile or tablet). One only has to read user forums and social media to know that this difference between what is sold and what users are reporting is not unique to our testing.
Project Lightning is set by its completion to provide around 1 million homes passed by FTTP, with many more connected via the traditional DOCSIS network and it will be interesting to see if as time progresses whether the newly built FTTP (with RFOG) areas will fare better in the battle for peak time speed performance.
Looking to the future, as soon as Virgin Media adopt 300 Mbps as their top tier speed rather than a limited availability HomeWorker option, Ofcom will be able to report a jump of ultrafast availability from around 1.7% to 51% (Ofcom use an almost unique definition of a minimum speed of 300 Mbps for ultrafast broadband, EU and others operate to a 100 Mbps minimum).