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Virgin Media Insources Home Engineers and Sign £500m Build Deal

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 (10:37 am) - Score 8,618
virgin media van 540px

Cable ISP Virgin Media UK has today announced that they’ve awarded a series of new regional build contracts for their gigabit-capable broadband and TV network to 6 national partners (worth £500m per year). On top of that they’ve also brought more than 700 customer-facing engineers back in-house to improve customer service.

At present Virgin Media’s mix of Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based infrastructure covers around 15 million premises, although they’re continuing to expand this under their £3bn Project Lightning build (currently 2.1 million premises completed). On top of that they’re also upgrading to the latest DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which will make 1Gbps+ speeds available across their network by the end of 2021 (here).

As part of the above VM’s new 5-year contracts worth £500m annually are said to manage both the delivery and maintenance of their gigabit capable broadband network (this covers numerous business areas like Project Lightning and Consumer). All of this forms part of an effort to “reform their partnership model” in order to provide a “one-stop-shop for the planning, expansion and maintenance.”

The new structure mentioned above will thus be implemented from April 2020 with 6 national partners delivering a variety of civil engineering tasks across nine key regions in the United Kingdom, which we’ve summarised below.

Contracted partners and regions:
Kier: Scotland + South London, South Coast & South East
Actavo: Northern Ireland
Avonline: North East + South West & South Wales
NMCN: North West & North Wales + Yorkshire & East Midlands
Comex: West Midlands
Kelly: North London, Homes Counties & East Anglia

On top of that all visits to homes and businesses will now be carried out by a Virgin Media employed engineer (previously some in-home visits were carried out by contracted partners). In practice what this means is that the operator will increase its directly employed engineer workforce by more than 700, taking its total number to 1,800.

Apparently this will “provide new and existing customers with a much improved experience when they have their services installed or issues fixed that require an engineer visit,” which could also be read as suggesting that the previously outsourced team of domestic focused engineers weren’t as good at their job as VM would have liked.

Rob Evans, VM MD of Network Expansion, said:

“These changes are great news for our customers, great news for partners and ultimately fantastic news for the UK as we really focus on building out our gigabit network to more locations.

This new regional model gives our partners the certainty, scale and transparency they need and provides Virgin Media with the teams equipped to deliver high-quality build efficiently and effectively with the support of local authorities and communities.”

Severina Pascu, Deputy CEO and CFO of VM, added:

“Bringing our customer-facing installation teams and engineers into Virgin Media will improve the service and experience our customers get from Virgin Media. Understandably, with our brand and superior network, our customers expect the best from us and we’re continuing to invest to deliver on those expectations and become the most recommended brand in the sector.”

At this point it may be worth remembering that Virgin Media originally pledged that their Project Lightning network expansion would reach an extra 4 million premises by the end of 2019 (inc. 2 million via FTTP), which could have taken their total coverage to 17 million premises (c.60% of the UK).

However at the end of last year they had only completed roughly half of their original build target and the problems here began in 2017, after the operator realised that they had been erroneously overstating their build progress. But we can take some comfort from today’s announcement that they’re continuing to build for the next 5 years, even if we can’t say quite how far they’ll actually get.

The big unknown in all of this is how it will impact Liberty Global’s (Virgin Media’s parent) ambition to establish a new alternative network – Liberty Networks, which could potentially serve the UK’s other 10 million premises – outside of VM’s existing network area (here) – with FTTP. In keeping with that we’re also waiting to see if VM opens their existing network up to wholesale access (here), either directly or by splitting it off under Liberty Networks.

Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris stockman says:

    First virgin media eed to sort out there broadband ive had it since b4 xmas and its been nothing but rubbish

  2. Avatar kevin says:

    they should also look at bring their call centre back to the UK as they are nightmare to deal with.

    1. Avatar Brian says:

      Totally agree. I am a new VM customer and found problems all the way through. Not only the foreign call centres are a nightmare to communicate with, but the various installation personnel have no method of communicating with each other causing absolute frustration for me as a customer. Too many issues for this reply, they are a right shower.

  3. Avatar Judith Newton says:

    We have had the same problem with there mobile office today they don’t understand what you are saying they wrote the wrong email address down after telling them 3 times

  4. Avatar G Pedant says:

    Hmmm, their and there. Grmmar is shocking on here.

  5. Avatar S Bee says:

    And spelling!

    1. Avatar Keith James says:

      Lol

  6. Avatar Keith James says:

    I agree it is very difficult to relay a message and get a the answer you without second guessing what was said to you. Bring it home please

  7. Avatar Andy Mussell says:

    Agree with Chris Stockman, Virgin need to sort out their existing broadband, I’ve not once seen speed anywhere near my suggested package, running at an ave of 20%-25% as an educated guess.
    Customer telephone service can not understand you! smmmh!

  8. Avatar Roger_Gooner says:

    At last VM has realised that maanging six contractors is too much like hard work, so this insourcing should be welcomed. VM should also do what BT has done and bring the call centre work back to the UK. It will be interesting to see what Liberty Networks does as I’d expect some employees to be transferred to the new company.

  9. Avatar C newton says:

    That’s all well and good but the wifi needs to be sorted out has it’s not very good in a normal 3 bedroom semi the signal is poor. And I agree with some of the post the call centre should be back in the uk because I can not understand what they are saying half of the time.

  10. Avatar C E Worrall says:

    WiFi a nightmare on hub3 nowehere need Viv 350 speed IV been paying for . Have to keep turning hub off and on to reset and work for a short time so frustrating along with all other customers on internet.This after two visits from service operatives.

    1. Avatar DaveyO says:

      The only fix I’ve found for the naff VM hubs is to put them in modem only mode and plug another router in.

  11. Avatar Andy says:

    I keep reading how good nmcn are but they are anything but. The team working in the Wirral were mainly Romanian and hardly spoke English. PPE didn’t exist and Health & Safety was overall very poor.
    They left a trail of damaged cars and mess everywhere they went along with total disregards to the homeowners.
    Driving a mini-dumper standing-up between parked cars with 20 unstrapped barriers on the bucket tops it off and this was after the morning inspection.
    All in the name of Virgin Media.
    If Virgin cannot get this outsourcing right what does it say about their network and customer service?
    Very disappointing ncmn and it looks like your cutting corners, by who you are employing, poor kit/recourses and a disregard to H&S not to mention the damage to private property.

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