Continuing in our series of broadband provider's guides, today we are looking at Virgin Media and the history behind the company. We will also look at the target market for Virgin and what deals are currently on offer.
The name Virgin is synonymous with Sir Richard Branson, and while the link is strong between Virgin Media and Sir Richard Branson, the link may not be as strong as you think. Virgin Media was formed from the merger of NTL and Telewest in March 2006. Following from the merger NTL:Telewest purchase Virgin Mobile UK making it the first “quadruple-play” provider.
Virgin Mobile was launched by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 1999 as the world's first Mobile Virtual Network Operator. An MVNO does not operate its own network and instead uses an existing network, which in the case was the One2One network (Now EE). If you have a Virgin Mobile account, you will using the EE network currently.
After NTL: Telewest purchased Virgin Mobile UK, a deal was signed with Sir Richard Branson to license the Virgin brand for the services. Subsequently, all of the company’s brands were rebranded in February to Virgin Media and therefore formally launching the Virgin Media brand.
Virgin Media was purchased by Liberty Global in 2013 which is an American international telecommunications and television company which operates a lot of companies across the globe including HBO Netherlands, UPC Broadband in Europe and they also have a 9.9% share in ITV plc.
Virgin Media owns and operate its own fibre-optic network within the United Kingdom which reaches a street cabinet box and is then able to supply customers in that area with superfast fibre broadband. As of 31st December 2012, Virgin Media has approximately 4.8 million cable customers and supplied 3.79 million of those with Virgin TV, 4.2 million with broadband and 4.1 million with telephony services.
Before Virgin Media was formed NTL and Telewest provided cable TV services to the UK. Telewest was formed in 1984 in Croydon under the name of Croydon Cable; NTL was established by Barclay Knapp and George Blumenthal in 1993 as International CableTel. It was setup to take advantage of the deregulation of the UK Cable Market.
The merger of the two cable powerhouses of cable are what have allowed Virgin Media to become one of the UK’s largest companies and the infrastructure they have in place allows them to offer a range of high-speed Internet and TV services that other broadband providers cannot.
Virgin Media Broadband primarily competes with Sky, BT and TalkTalk, who all offer a full range of services to their customers including Television services. This position allows them to compete on price of combined packages which can reduce the costs if all services are required by the customer.
Virgin Media has its own fibre cable network which allowed it to offer fibre optic services to customers before any of its rivals who do not have the same infrastructure as Virgin. Due to Virgin’s expansive and established networks, they are also able to offer higher speeds than the likes of Sky and BT Broadband who have to use local exchanges to deliver their broadband services.
Due to the deal in place with Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Media make use of the Virgin Brand image even though they are not part of the Virgin group. This has been shown in recent years through many television adverts featuring Sir Richard Branson and Virgin brand ambassador Usain Bolt. It is well known that Usain Bolt and Sir Richard brands are great friends and so Virgin Media wanted to use this to their advantage.
One of the most well-known Virgin Media ad campaigns is the Usain Bolt series, which highlights the speed of their fibre broadband services by comparing it to the speed of Usain Bolt. Virgin Media was also rated fastest broadband supplier by uSwitch in 2016, as well as best customer rated broadband.
Virgin Media targets customers who are looking for superfast high-speed broadband services. Being able to offer speeds of up to 200mbs across the UK gives them a big advantage over competitors who can only offer up to 72mbps. While 200mbps is more than adequate for most, the ability to offer these speeds is a distinct marketing advantage. For those who use broadband services and the Internet on a regular basis, these speeds may be needed for series of different usages.
The ability to offer competing TV services to Sky allows Virgin to stop Sky from dominating the premium TV industry. Often it can be advantageous to play Sky and Virgin Media off each other when looking to get a deal as they are known to price match or beat each other on pricing where possible.
If you missed the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Broadband Deals then do not worry, Virgin Media have deals on throughout the year.
Virgin Media do not offer ADSL Broadband services due to their extensive fibre broadband network. Currently, their lowest priced package is £32 per month including a phone line for speeds of up to 50mbps and unlimited downloads. They also include free unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin Mobile numbers. This is a great deal if you are looking for an alternative to standard ADSL broadband.
If you are looking for the fastest broadband speeds possible, then the VIVID 200 broadband deal is perfect. It provides speeds of up to 200mbps which is more than double the speed of their competitors. This deal costs £45 per month and again offers unlimited downloads with the talk weekend package.
Be sure to check out what the fastest speeds in your area are before committing to Virgin Media as it may not be possible to get Fibre broadband where you are anyway.