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Goodbye ntl:Telewest - Hello Virgin Media
By: MarkJ - 08 February, 2007 (1:36 PM)

ntl:Telewest and Virgin Mobile have today been formally replaced with the much publicised new brand of 'Virgin Media'. Naturally any new name needs a selling point and VM doesn't disappoint thanks to its quad-play package of broadband, telephone, mobile and TV:

Simplicity and choice are key priorities for Virgin Media. Customers can choose from a range of products on the quadplay menu in clearly priced packages to suit their needs. Virgin Media offers two products for 20, three for 30 and four for 40.

For those who want the best entertainment and communication products money can buy, the company also announced the launch of its 'VIP' (Very Impressive Package) service, offering V+, its HD-enabled PVR; 10Mb broadband; unlimited UK landline calls; and a free TV mobile phone with 500 minutes of mobile airtime per month, 1,000 texts a month and a VIP bonus of 60 free airtime.

As an alternative to Freeview, Virgin Media can also deliver outstanding value to its existing home phone customers with its TV-on-demand service, included in a free TV package. The UK's most extensive TV-on-demand library has more than 500 movie titles and hundreds more comedy shows and TV dramas available 24/7.

We note that the 'VIP' package will cost from a staggering 85 per month, which isn't as much as it seems when you consider what it includes. Perhaps of more interest are VM's expansion plans, which among other things will see improved cable coverage:

National reach and coming to a store near you Virgin Media also announced plans to extend its reach nationally by rolling services out into non-cable areas in 2007, enabling it to compete on a level playing field with key competitors for the first time ever by reaching over 97% of UK households.

Virgin Media will soon be taking on competitors in the high street too, via a major retail initiative. Fifteen stand alone Virgin Mobile stores offering its unique quadplay of broadband, digital TV, home phone and mobile will open throughout the UK in 2007. This is in addition to existing promotional sites in over 100 of the UK's major shopping centres. The company will also shortly be announcing a major deal to sell its quadplay services in hundreds of high street retail outlets across the UK. In addition, it will sell quadplay in 75 Virgin Mobile concessions in Virgin Megastores.

Focusing on customer service

Virgin Media is putting customer service at the heart of its business and will make it a key differentiator for consumers. In 2006, it invested 10m (on an annualised basis), hired 300 extra customer service employees, 30 new trainers and reinvigorated its training programmes. Great progress has been made, with 71% of calls now answered within 30 seconds compared to 37% this time last year. And the average speed of answer is now 40 seconds, compared to 176 seconds this time last year. Virgin Media will continue to focus on achieving and maintaining the highest levels of service for all its customers.

Typically Virgin Media, which has been vocal about its dissatisfaction with aspects of NTL before, will be looking to improve upon the old model and present itself as a better business. Existing customers will no doubt be keeping a close on whether the new model makes things better or worse.

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