Virgin Media to launch 100 Mbps service by year’s end

Thu, 02/25/2010 - 7:35am
Mike Robuck

While Comcast is keeping its 100 Mbps deployment close to its vest, the United Kingdom’s Virgin Media said that it would start to roll out its 100 Mbps tier by the end of the year.

Virgin Media was an early adopter of DOCSIS 3.0 wideband technology, and the 100 Mbps tier will be the fastest commercial offering in the U.K. Virgin Media has 4.1 million broadband customers, with most on cable broadband, and currently offers 10 Mbps, 20 Mbps and 50 Mbps tiers.

"There is nothing we can't do with our fiber-optic cable network, and the upcoming launch of our flagship 100 Mbps service will give our customers the ultimate broadband experience,” Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said. “Just as we led the way by launching the U.K.'s first-ever next-generation service, we want to keep giving our customers the very best broadband available by investing in technological innovation and transforming the experience they have when they are online. The launch of Virgin Media's 100 Mbps service will be a historic moment and will mean the U.K. will be comparable to other leading broadband nations."

Virgin Media also announced it would expand the company’s 200 Mbps pilot to Coventry, where it will look to recruit hundreds of additional customers to trial the faster speed. The 200 Mbps pilot, which began in May 2009 in Kent, has been focusing on future technologies and applications such as home teleconferencing and downloading HD programs on-demand, which are likely to require fast speeds.

Virgin Media also reported its fourth-quarter earnings today, which included an operating profit increase of 15 percent that was helped by its growth in Internet subscribers.

Virgin Media’s average revenue per cable user rose 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter to 44.81 pounds ($68.34).

Virgin Media, the U.K.’s second-largest pay-TV operator, added 63,600 Internet customers, 34,200 new TV subscribers and 77,100 mobile phone customers in the fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31.

"In the fourth quarter, we successfully grew both the size and quality of our customer base,” Berkett said. “New and existing customers responded to an increasingly differentiated product portfolio and competitively priced bundles by buying more higher-value products. This demand underpinned growth across all our product lines and record ARPU, which, combined with stable churn, drove a 6 percent increase in consumer cable revenue and 55 percent free cash flow growth.

"We continue to invest in the quality of our services: Nearly all our 3.8 million cable broadband subscribers now have a 10 Mbps service or higher; we are steadily enriching our pay-TV service with exclusive on-demand content and new HD channels; the use of our market-leading video-on-demand service has reached record levels; and attractively priced deals are fueling continued growth in contract mobile subscriptions.”

Earnings before interest, taxes, deprecation, amortization and other charges increased to 366.2 million pounds ($558.7 million), compared with 317.6 million pounds ($484.64 million) a year ago.

More Broadband Direct 2/25/10:
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•  Comcast's Project Cavalry hits North Fla.; 100 Mbps on tap
•  Search is on by SCTE for newly created position of CTO
•  Virgin Media to launch 100 Mbps service by year's end
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•  Broadband Briefs for 02/25/10




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