A review on NTL:Telewest - Virgin Media Inc
Virgin Media Inc. has its headquarters in New York City and its activities focus heavily on the United Kingdom, with operational headquarters in Hook, North Hampshire. Virgin Media Inc. is said to be the first media-company in Britain that offered a combined package of television, Internet, mobile phone and fixed-line telephone services.
Historical facts on the emergence of Virgin Media
Telewest originated in Croydon in 1984 under the name “Croydon Cable”.
In 1988 United Cable of Denver, US, acquired Croydon Cable.
In 1989 United Cable merged with United Artists Cable International.
In 1991 United Artists merged with their largest shareholder TCI (Liberty Media), to form the largest cable-operator in the US. TCI and US West announced a joint venture.
In 1992 the joint venture company became Telewest Communications.
In 2001the company started “Telewest Broadband”.
In 2004 Telewest re-structured itself by swapping its unsecured debt for 98.5% of its shares. The London FTSE then de-listed the consolidated shares.
Afterwards the company emerged from financial restructuring and completed a merger with NTL in 2006, forming one of the largest media companies in the UK.
Once merged, the combined company renamed itself to NTL Incorporated,
On 4 July 2006, the takeover of Virgin Mobile by NTL Incorporated
completed setting up the UK’s first ‘quadruple play’ media company, bringing together television, Internet broadband, mobile phone and fixed-line phone services.
On November 8, 2006 NTL:Telewest announced it would change its name to “Virgin Media Inc”
On February 8, 2007 the NTL Group’s services — previously marketed under the NTL, Telewest and Virgin.net brands — merged with Virgin Mobile under the “Virgin Media” brand , referred to by Virgin as V Day.
Broadband offered by Virgin Media
Virgin Broadband currently ranks as the UK’s second-largest broadband-supplier. 28.1% market-share across the UK is with Virgin as compared to its competitor BT who have 38% as of 27 July 2007
The broadband division combines NTL’s cable-broadband operations (broadband Internet access connections through cable), Blueyonder (Telewest’s cable-broadband operations) and Virgin.net (ADSL; broadband internet access through a non-cable telephone line).
The cable service operates through both stand-alone cable modems and television set-top boxes.
The download speeds offered to cable-users include 2Mbit/s , 4 Mbit/s and 20 Mbit/s, having upload speeds of 256 kbit/s, 512 kbit/s, and 768 kbit/s respectively.
Non-cable (ADSL) users have options of up-to 1 Mbit/s and up-to 8 Mbit/s.. As with all ADSL services, actual speed available varies depending on distance from the telephone exchange.
Virgin Media also offers dial-up Internet services. Virgin Phone subscribers have two options; pay-as-you-go at 3p/minute, or a fixed monthly fee of L14.99 for unlimited usage.
Subscribers with a BT telephone line have only the option of pay-as-you-go, costing from 1p/minute.
The cable broadband services do not have a bandwidth-cap, however on 3 May 2007 Virgin introduced traffic management enabling customers to have unlimited usage with out extra charges related to the amount of data downloaded.
However between 4pm (or sometimes earlier) and midnight, the system will reduce speeds after a customer has downloaded a certain amount of data (350 MB for the 2Mb package, 750 MB for the 4Mb package and 3 GB for the 10/20Mb package). The actual speed decrease depends on the package subscribed to, and ranges from 50% to 75%.
In its fourth quarter results in 2007,
Virgin Media has announced plans to launch a 50 Mbit/s service in the summer of 2008, and stated that it had started conducting 100 Mbit/s residential trials.
Virgin Television, the digital cable television service from Virgin Media, is said to be the UK’s second largest pay TV service. Currently Virgin’s network passes only 55% of UK households. There is a proposal by Virgin to expand its TV availability in the rest of the UK using DSL technology. It proposes to do this both by signing a contract with another telecom company and by installing its own equipment in BT exchanges.
Virgin has offered High-definition Television (HDTV) and Digital Video Recorder (PVR) service. Virgin Media was the first UK broadcaster to offer HDTV under its old brand name Telewest.
Video on demand(VOD)
Virgin Media offers a “true” VOD system. This system enables customers to stream programmes as and when they want to watch them from servers at the their home. Pre-recording of many programmes can be avoided as the broadcaster automatically stores content on Virgin Media servers Users can also search through a large library of programmes like BBC, France 24, Channel 4, HBO, Warner Brothers and Virgin Media Television and watch them when they want to.
Virgin Media owns Virgin Mobile Holdings (UK) plc, the leading virtual mobile-network operator in Britain, with over 4.5m subscribers.
Virgin Phone offers landline telephone services; which is considered to be the second in rank and next to BT Group.