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UPD Virgin Media UK Could Sell Shelved Copper ADSL2 Broadband Business

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 (7:56 am) - Score 1,050
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Cable operator Virgin Media (Liberty Global) has reportedly put up a tentative FOR SALE sign next to the 135,000 customers on their old copper-based Virgin National Broadband (Virgin.net / ADSL2+) platform, which closed to new subscribers in October 2013 (here) and has continued to decline from its peak of 275,900 users in early 2011.

The Virgin National service had originally been intended to complement the operator’s cable platform and thus give Virgin a reach into non-cable areas, although instead it often felt like the forgotten child and received very little attention from its parent. Similarly the ADSL based services, which offered very variable top speeds of up to around 20Mbps, could never keep up with Virgin’s cable (EuroDOCSIS) platform that can now deliver top speeds of 152Mbps.

The operator did attempt a brief refresh when it upgraded part of the platform from ADSL to ADSL2+ services in 2009 (here), yet after a peaking in 2011 it soon returned to a trend of broad decline. At one point there were even rumours of a plan to launch a new range of FTTC based superfast broadband packages but these evaporated when the Virgin National service was shelved.

At the time Virgin Media said that they wanted to “focus on developing services on our next generation cable network” and would continue to provide “services and support for all of our existing National customers“, although any potential subscribers in non-cable areas would instead now be redirected to find an alternative ISP.

So it’s perhaps with little surprise that we read a report in the FT (paywall), which claims that Virgin Media is currently ‘considering’ a sale of the business and has even sent “information packs” with the relevant details out to “prospective buyers” (e.g. ISPs like BT, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk etc.). However it’s understood that Virgin hasn’t yet committed to this path.

ISPreview.co.uk has requested a comment from the operator, although they chose not to comment on the FT’s piece. Incidentally Virgin Media’s next round of financial results are due out soon and we wouldn’t be surprised to see yet another sharp decline in their Virgin National base, which is now a normal occurrence. Rumours of a sale to one of their rivals will surely only fuel the exodus as existing customers seek to choose their own destiny before it is decided for them.

UPDATE 9:41am

A Virgin Media spokeswoman told ISPreview.co.uk: “We do not comment on speculation.”

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    Time to recycle all the copper. Its so yesterday. The ADSL element of Virgin broadband gave it a bad name. Folk don’t know the difference between coax and old phone lines and fibre, and tarred the business with the same brush… The sooner Virgin get shut of obsolete technology and get more fibre in the better it will be for them. It will be better for the country too, because the superior service will make BT up their game and stop pratting about with their legacy infrastructure that needed upgrading decades ago.

  2. Avatar FibreFred says:

    Good luck selling that 🙂

  3. Avatar finaldest says:

    Would not take it even if I were paid.

    The cost of upkeep to maintain a dead technology is not worth the time and effort. Fibre is the future and VM obviously realise this and are trying to dump this on the open market to try and get rid of it before costs escalate.

  4. Avatar Tim says:

    Well Sky now know that when they buy a customer base they loose a lot of them. They lost ~30,000 of the O2’s customer base. They’d be better off just offering an incentive for existing Virgin media customers to move to them. There will be a point when it costs more for Virgin to keep it running and also won’t be worth anything to anyone to buy. This point may have actually already passed. They should just give notice and let everyone migrate.

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