Virgin Media passes another 0.5 million premises in last year but lost 1,000 customers
For the UK financial results it is worth reminding people that while some firms started the shift to home working ahead of the lockdown start on 23rd March 2020, that was only a week or so in advance of the massive change and thus the impact on the latest financial results should be minimal in terms of numbers. What will be changing is financial results for countries where the lockdowns started earlier and decisions by company boards made once they have seen the results and had time to evaluate potential impact on the business. In short lots of talk of COVID-19 in the financials but the real impact on results is only going to be seen in the three months of April, May and June.
Now onto the subject of the title, the Q1 2020 results from Virgin Media (owned by Liberty Global). The results talk a lot about fixed and mobile convergence and that will be covered in another item when we discuss the O2/Virgin Media merger.
Looking at the Virgin Media fixed line broadband business the good news is that the number of premises passed by the network managed to grow by 497,600 in the last 12 months to 15,920,100 premises, but the number of fixed line customers actually dropped by 1,000. This means the number of broadband customers continues to hover close to the 5.3 million mark, the slight positive though was last quarter did show a small increase of sign-ups.
Financially the flat customer picture is balanced out by an increased ARPU of £51.97, the increase of 1.2% may look small but once you take into account the millions of customers it all adds up.
Virgin Media has stated that after the speed boost programme over a number of months they have now reached the point where 95% of customers are on a 100 Mbps or faster speed tier.
The DOCSIS 3.1 switch is declared to be at 13% of their UK footprint. We have areas of Manchester, Birmingham, Reading and Southampton in our databases as places where DOCSIS 3.1 is switched on and we are keeping an eye open for announcements of more switch ons which means the 1,108 Mbps service will be available to more. The aim at Virgin Media is to finish the full switch on by the end of 2021.
So how do our figures compare with the Virgin Media results?
Well the network footprint size we believe their service is available to is 15,819,699 premises which works out at 52.1% of the UK based on our total premises count.
On the 95% of customers on a 100 Mbps or faster service statement, our product detection for April 2020 suggests 78% on M100 or faster, the difficulty with this comparison is that Wi-Fi use is so common that broadband faults are often referred to as 'my Wi-Fi is broken' by the public and we are probably detecting a good number of people as being on the older M50 or M70 services.
The median download speeds show that Virgin Media has been upgrading speeds and this is impacting the monthly speed test average for Virgin Media. The upload chart has a big step change in upload speeds because this is plotting the median speed, the mean chart (not shown) has a big climb in summer 2019 and while it varies more has now largely flattened out.
The profile charts for the speed tests from Virgin Media DOCSIS 3.x customers now are showing that the small plateau you would see from M50 and M70 customers are now gone.
The April profile results mean we are going to do what will hopefully be the final tweak to our Virgin Media product detection for some time and count against just M100, M200, M350, M500 and Gig1 tiers. Dropping the old M50, M70 and M150 tiers.