March 13, 2016
With the verification of Neil Berkett as CEO of Virgin Media after some eight months as the acting CEO we may see Virgin Media starting to crank up a gear.
Virgin Media has had a unsteady time since its conception and the major shareholder Richard Branson, while very conspicuous at the launch, appears to be taking a back seat in the way the business is moving ahead. This might work in Neil Berkett’s favour since he initiated the ‘focus on broadband’ rather than trying to take on all comers, as he has more autonomy to drive the business down the path he believes is right.
Fascinatingly the subject of cable broadband being delivered over fibre optic cables has rose again, one starts to speculate if there are people who do believe Virgin Media is a fibre to the home architecture. At best it is a fibre to the cabinet architecture, with the final 1000 feet or so delivered over metallic co-ax cable. By means of the right levels of investment in upgrading the network and providing adequate peak capacity, Virgin Media does have the capacity to consistently surpass any ADSL2+ provider at present. The matter is whether this can be done at a cost point that is attractive to the consumer.
The challenges over the next couple of years are expected to be sub-loop unbundling which may perhaps see ADSL2+ on much shorter twisted pair lengths, and if VDSL2 starts to materialize the speed crown will be at grave risk. Look ahead another year or two and emerging full fibre networks may be appearing too. Staying in front of BT and its retail or wholesale products used to be sufficient but with the diverse competition out there others like Telefonica (Be/02) need to watched closely.