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UPD Virgin Media Invest £1bn in UK Network and Calls Sky Broadband “Lousy”

Tuesday, Jun 17th, 2014 (9:22 am) - Score 1,231

The current CEO of Virgin Media (Liberty Global), Tom Mockridge, has branded Sky Broadband’s rival service as “lousy” and said that their new offer of 24 months free unlimited broadband alongside the Sky Sports TV bundle “means their broadband is maybe not that good“. Mockridge acted as BSkyB’s deputy chairman between 2012 and early 2013.

Cable operator Virgin Media appears keen to capitalise on the strengths of its cable network, which can already deliver mass market Internet download speeds of up to 152Mbps (though their upload performance could do with some improvement) and recently benefitted from another favourable Ofcom report on UK home broadband speeds (here).

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Tom Mockridge said (The Mirror):

When someone offers you something for free, generally most customers are smart enough and realise they are paying for it somewhere else. You’ve got to think, if someone is going to give you their broadband for free, it means their broadband is maybe not that good.

If you are putting up with a lousy broadband service, and you can’t get a good connection, maybe you should go to a proper broadband operator. Most people see through the marketing.”

In fairness Sky Broadband often appears to score close to or above Virgin Media in terms of consumer satisfaction and also receives a similarly low level of complaints to the cable giant (here), although Virgin’s cable platform is still technically superior to Sky’s Internet access options, which are of course based off BT’s national platform (ADSL2+ and FTTC). Over the years Virgin has made no secret of their disdain for BT’s DSL based network services and may soon end up selling their own Virgin National customer base (here).

At the same time Virgin Media’s network is by no means problem free and as a result there’s a hint of “pot calling the kettle black” about their criticism of Sky, which perhaps represents the usual tit-for-tat war of marketing spin between big rivals. But Mockridge freely admit “we’re not perfect but we have got a lot better than we were.”

But perhaps the real reason is Mockridge’s announcement that Virgin Media is currently investing £1 billion a year into its service, with most of that going towards boosting its cable network. Mockridge suggested that this was likely to be sustained going forward and added, “frankly the bigger we get the more money that has to go in.”

However in recent quarters Virgin Media’s growth has been more modest (here) and they’re somewhat constrained by the coverage of their urban-focused cable network, which currently reaches about half of the UK population but has no plans to expand significantly further. We have asked Sky to comment.

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UPDATE 11:14am

Sky Broadband told ISPreview.co.uk that they had no common to make on Mockridge’s remark.

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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