ISPreview - VirginMedia Interview
VirginMedia Interview
By: Mark Jackson - Oct 23rd 2007 : Page 2 -of- 3
"Only a small percentage of people will be able to access the full 24Mbp/s potentially offered by ADSL2+."

3. Fibre (FTTx) broadband technology has been a popular talking point of 2007, with many claiming that the UK risks falling behind other countries unless we replace our ageing copper wire based networks to keep up with global competition and bandwidth requirements.

Fibre isn't a talking point for us, it's a reality. Unlike other British ISPs, we already have deep fibre in our access network, although we also offer services over BT's network where cable doesn't reach.

Almost all of our cable customers are within 1km of our fibre and typically they are within 500m. This isn't fibre to the home, but is the equivalent of fibre to the node (FTTN) which is being rolled out in many other countries in conjunction with VDSL2.

We use a coax cable from the end of the fibre to the home and this gives us a great deal of capacity, meaning we can offer super-fast internet services which we don't need to hijack to deliver our TV services. And because the access network is amplified, you get the same capacity wherever you are on the network, unlike copper wires where the speed drops the further away you live from the phone exchange.

As a result we can offer a nationwide service of up to 20Mb and have already tested much faster connections.

4. Ofcom’s new broadband migration rules (GC22), which make it easier for consumers to switch ISP’s, were introduced earlier in the year; though they still fall short when it comes to unbundled (LLU) line support. Has their introduction impacted your ISP and in what areas could it still be improved?

We always believe in making things more straight forward for customers so, on the ADSL side of our broadband business, we followed the voluntary switching code before the processes were formally introduced. Obviously for the cable side of the business, which doesn't involve BT's network or ADSL technology, we follow a different process.

5. BT are currently preparing to launch their ‘up to’ 24Mbps broadband ADSL2+ services sometime next year. What kind of impact, in terms of network usage and package prices, do you expect this to have?

We aren't reliant on BT for our cable services and we already offer an up to 20Mb service which isn't affected by the distance between a customer and a phone exchange. That's because there's consistent amplification across our cable network, unlike ADSL. Only a small percentage of people will be able to access the full 24Mbp/s potentially offered by ADSL2+.

6. Over the past 24 months we’ve seen an aggressive level of market consolidation, which has spawned several giant providers. What kind of impact, if any, has this had on your own ISP and the wider market?

We are still Britain's biggest residential broadband provider, as BT includes business customers in its numbers, so, as a 'giant' provider ourselves, it naturally means more competition for us. It's vital we keep providing a quality, award-winning service in order to stay ahead of the field.

The increased competition has led to intense pressure on prices over the past few years, but it's also meant a hugely complex market for consumers to compare. It's not always easy to make direct comparisons, so it's important we make our products appealing and as simple as possible. Internet magazines and sites like ISP Review also play a key role in providing objective information for consumers hunting for a new provider.

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