VIRGIN MEDIA SUPERFAST
Virgin Media superfast broadband
to be launched
3 November, 2007:
Virgin Media, the leading cable
operator in the United Kingdom, is
launching a trial of what the company
calls superfast broadband speeds.
Neil Berkett, chief executive of
Virgin Media, has admitted that this
is being done in order to attract
customers since the company cannot
compete with rival cable operator
BSkyB in the pay-TV market, according
to media reports.
Neil Berkett announced at a Media
Guardian broadcast summit recently
that Virgin Media would promote its
broadband as its “hero” product after
the company having been involved in a
fierce dispute with BSkyB earlier in
2006. The dispute resulted in BSkyB
withdrawing its key channels from
Media reports quoted Neil Berkett as
saying that “it had become especially
difficult for Virgin Media to compete
with Sky in the pay-TV market” and
that the board had approved Berkett’s
decision to concentrate on Virgin
Media’s broadband offering.
Virgin Media, according to Berkett, is
in a better position to compete on
broadband as it already offers speeds
of up to 20 megabits per second to
some customers and has successfully
tested 50 megabits.
BSkyB currently offers broadband
speeds of up to 16 megabits. BT offers
8 megabits now, but has plans to raise
it to 24.
Virgin Media is also planning to offer
services such as HDTV on demand.
Virgin Media was launched earlier in
2007 following the merger of NTL,
Telewest and Virgin Mobile.
Media analysts say that Virgin Media
has lost around 40,000 customers since
its dispute with BSkyB, which is owned
by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. BSkyB
had withdrawn its main channels off
the Virgin Media network after efforts
to settle the dispute failed.
The television channels taken off
Virgin Media by BSkyB included Sky
News and Sky One. The withdrawal
deprived the customers of Virgin Media
of highly popular shows like 24,
Battlestar Galactica, and Lost.
Ofcom, the media regulator of the
United Kingdom, has launched an
investigation into the pay-television
industry in the country after BSkyB’s
rivals, including Virgin Media,
accused BSkyB of trying to eliminate