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UPDATE UK Cable Provider Virgin Media Gobbles Rival Smallworld Fibre

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 (12:28 pm) - Score 2,843

National UK cable provider Virgin Media has acquired Lancashire-based rival Smallworld Fibre, which typically served homes in western Scotland and North West England, for an undisclosed amount and in the process added 40,000 new customers.

The move, which leaves Isle of Wight based operator Wight Cable as the UK’s last remaining independent cable (DOCSIS) provider, means that customers in areas including Irvine, Dreghorn, Troon and Kilmarnock as well as Carlisle, Lancaster and Morecambe will soon become part of Virgin Media’s similar network.

Paul Buttery, Virgin’s Chief Technology and Networks Officer, said:

Even better broadband can open up fantastic possibilities for people as well as support the economic growth of an area. Smallworld will help us bring Virgin Media’s advanced services to thousands of homes, businesses and organisations for the very first time. Their great network is a perfect fit for us as we continue to invest and look for the right opportunities to grow. We’re excited about what the region has to offer and what we can offer the region.”

David Durnford, MD and Owner of Smallworld Fibre, added:

Virgin Media has led the way in bringing superfast broadband and next generation TV to millions of UK homes and our customers will now be able to benefit from their significant ongoing investment and innovation. Smallworld is a great, local success story and, as the pace of change in the digital world continues to quicken, we’re delighted to be passing the baton onto such a great partner.”

Customers of Smallworld should not initially expect any huge changes in their existing service, although further details are expected to surface when Virgin Media begins writing to their new customers in the not too distant future. We hope to have more details shortly.

UPDATE 1:31pm

A spokesperson for Virgin Media has told ISPreview.co.uk that the two services, which are based off the same technology, will be “integrated over the course of the year” but for now it remains “business as usual for Smallworld’s customers“. Virgin says they’ll continue to deliver the existing service but will eventually start offering some of their own-branded solutions to existing subscribers, which suggests that the old brand might eventually vanish.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Unknown101 says:

    How long till Virgin are a SMP now also wonder if and when they’ll take over Wight Cable.

  2. Avatar FibreFred says:

    Good move, If you aren’t going to expand buy instead!

    Just one point really Smallworld Fibre… so its not actually fibre is it? Its just cable? 🙂 I thought they’d snapped up a FTTH company

    If you look at their website and where it says “Why Fibre” it goes here http://www.smallworldcable.com/Benefits-of-cable

    At least the URL is the true. 🙂 No doubt Cyberdoyle will be on with her complaint that its not fibre unless its fibre to the premise, or maybe that is just a comment reserved for BT

    I must say if you were a regular joe and didn’t know better you could very very easily buy from them and expect FTTH, just the fact that its called Smallworld Fibre alone would cause confusion

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Unlike VDSL, Fred, DOCSIS doesn’t lose speed as the distance between subscriber and the fibre node grows so it’s not such an issue.

      Not to say that DOCSIS doesn’t have many issues of its own of course.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Totally agree and not up for debate, its more the marketing of the product I was talking about

  3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    I suspect they’ll need a lot more than that coverage to become an operator with SMP like BT.

  4. Avatar Unknown101 says:

    Looks like wight cable is actually Wight fibre as well, guess they have seen the limitations of DOCSIS and have now turned to fibre instead, guess Virgin won’t be as interested in Wight then.

    What is the % of population must a provider have before they become a company with SMP? As they don’t wholesale I guess that’s another reason why they have significant power.

  5. Avatar No clue says:

    Sigh some people just have no clue.

    1. Wight cable is DOCSIS http://www.wightfibre.com/broadband/why_fibre
    about halfway down the page… “WightFibre uses coaxial cable for that final hop which allows us to deliver greater bandwidth,”
    2. Virgin do not cover even 50% of the UK so its not SMP
    3. The phone side of things from Virgin still relies on the BT network in some areas (Again a product without SMP).
    4. Any area that can get Virgins product can also get BTs product AGAIN not SMP. NO user in any area is dependant on Virgin to provide a telecoms product.
    5. Some posters seem to suspiciously talk very similar nonsense at the same times of the day.

    1. Avatar Gadget says:

      To at least start getting clued up on SMP
      “The SMP Test

      2.5 The SMP test is set out in Article 4(3) of the ICD. It lists various factors which the NRA must take into account when considering whether an operator has SMP. No single factor has decisive weight, although, given that the objectives of the Directive are end-to-end communications for all users and universal service, particular attention will be given to an operator’s ability to control access to customers. A presumption of SMP will arise when an operator has a market share of 25%. Nevertheless, the NRA is given discretion to determine, on the basis of the other factors, that an operator with a market share less than 25% has SMP, or conversely that an operator with a market share of more than 25% does not have SMP.

      2.6 The other factors listed in the Directive are:

      market power, judged by an operator’s ability to influence market conditions;
      turnover, relative to the size of the market;
      control of the means of access to end-users;
      access to financial resources; and
      experience in providing products and services in the market.”

  6. Avatar GNewton says:

    Maybe there is a reason why their http://www.smallworldcable.com/Fibre-Optic-Broadband/What-is-Fibre-Optic-Broadband link (taken from the footer of their page) now always leads to a ‘404 Page Not Found’: Because it is NOT fibre broadband!

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:


      Or ’404 Fibre Not Found’

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