back to article Virgin Media in talks with power firms to expand network

Virgin Media plans to expand its cable network to up to a million homes in areas where BT doesn't think upgrading its network will be worthwhile - and the cable company says it won't need subsidies to do it. It is in talks with power companies for access to their streetside poles, which are used to deliver electricity in many …


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  1. Andy Barker

    Clarification please

    "Virgin Media's network currently covers 12.6 million homes, about half the country"

    Is 12.6 million homes actually half the country, or half the population?

  2. Da Weezil
    Thumb Up

    Bye bye landline?

    Please tell me this will allow broadband without a landline! Hey Virgin how about a larger scale trial on SWPM area? most of this area get power from the pole and our market 1 exchange has bordering on 10,000 lines (ignore Sam knows checker figure - it hasn't changed in about 5 years despite the building that has been going on all around this town.)

    For me this could be a winner, especially if it means I can dispense with a land-line and just take broadband. I feel this might make significant inroads to the BT subscriber base in areas of the country that BT have ignored. I'm sick of paying a premium cost compared to cable/llu areas getting a second rate service both in terms of speed and allowances due to a combination of BTw predatory pricing and upgrade policies which leave it fighting for crumbs in LLU areas while places where they have 100% of the market are left in the slow lane.

    BT have destroyed this customers loyalty.. If VM fibre arrives here I'm gone - along with many others... and BT will only have itself to blame.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No Landline Required

      You don't need to have a landline but due to VMs packaging prices it might actually cost more to not have a landline from them.

      It costs more if you have TV & Broadband without a landline than with it - even if you never use it., not sure about if you just have broadband.

  3. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    If you think BT have bad customer service...

    VM take the piss, I left them for BT 2 years ago, BE* internet over a BT line is the best Internet service I've ever had.

  4. Vitani

    Nice one Virgin

    Now if only they could connect me to the cabled road less than 100m from my house! :o)

    1. irish donkey
      Thumb Up

      that's nothing

      I have Virgin 20mb Broadband. My next door neightbour (less than a meter away) cannot have Virgin as they are not in a cable area?

      Solution. Wireless, half price braodband for me and him.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Probably a violation of the T&C

        Most ISPs don't let you share your connection. Better not let VM know what you're doing.

      2. King TuT

        Next door neighbour.

        VM's database is useless, they just need to get a spotter out.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    grid/duct sharing should have been the norm years ago....

    there would have been far fewer disruptions due to road works for starters.

  6. Paul Shirley

    1 day,2? maybe 3 for the BT reply

    ...and the countdown to BT suddenly discovering it can afford to deploy to those homes has begun...

  7. Sarah Davis

    If it's not HUGELY profitable then it's not for BT !

    BT has always been greedy and short sighted. They held back on ADSL because they wanted to milk as much as they could from their ridiculously priced 'Highway' (dual ISDN). They laid down miles of alluminium cable as it was cheaper than copper, then had to replace it all as ADSL doesn't work on Alluminium. When cable first started in britain, BT didn't consider it a threat until it had taken 40% of their customers. BT were advised on Power Line Distribution as a method for reaching rural areas 10 years ago but couldn't be arsed as it wasn't hugely profitable (and looks like Virgin has picked up the gauntlet that was too heavy for BT). For the past 50 years BT has ripped off it's customers with over charging, over inflated price schemes, and disfunctional services.

    It's astonishing that anyone in Britain should use BT at all

    1. Rob Beard
      Thumb Up

      BT Highway

      BT haven't been running for 50 years. It was privatised in the 80's, originally it was the GPO, and BT Highway wasn't 'dual ISDN', just ISDN2e which gave you 2 ISDN channels (okay three is you count the D channel) so you could have either two channels running to give you 128Kbit/sec, 1 channel to give you 64Kbit/sec and a phone line, or two phone lines.

      It wasn't a bad service but it was damned expensive. I remember looking into it when I was a heavy dialup internet user, in the end I stuck with standard analogue dialup and eventually took up ADSL (at 512Kbit/sec) when BT started the wires only trial.

      I do agree with some of your points though, BT only do what is good for BT. If a village puts in alternatives (wireless for instance) BT will come along and mysteriously install their kit and undercut the competition.

      Still this has to be good news about Virgin, maybe eventually when they exhaust the possibilities of their standard cable network they might look at replacing the copper with fibre, and with all those existing ducts it would probably work out economically viable, at least in the long term.


    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Oh dear - where do I start?

      I'll deal with the 'headline' first:Ofcom won't allow BT to make a large profit. It has something called a 'margin squeeze test' that ensures BT's profits are 'reasonable'. Unsurprisingly the idea that it won't be allowed to make a decent profit tends to crimp BT's enthusiasm for investing.

      ADSL v. HH:

      ISDN in fact is a very old technology and for many years it underpinned most telecoms systems and still does. Many small offices rely on ISDN for voice communication. The mobile industry may still be reliant on it although I suspect 3G and the like have finally banished it. BT had no need to 'milk' HH and in fact they appeared to dislike it in my experience. Their implementation put an excessive load on the exchange when bonding channels so they discouraged that by excluding dual channel from Surftime. HH is also uncontended and didn't 'play well' with other traffic. With ISDN you might only get 64kb/s but it's /your/ 64kb/s all the way to the ISP's POP. Even if you're off making a cup of tea your connection still takes 64kb/s off the network - no time sharing with other users there.

      BT pulling ally cable.

      Where? I agree it was cost saving that caused it to be used but they don't often pull it. They just shrug and tell the customer to like it or lump it in most cases.

      BT and the cable thread.

      They were well aware of the 'threat' of cable. Or at least well aware of the advantages of it. They applied for permission to cable /the entire country/ but Mrs. Thatcher refused them permission to use it for broadcasting and decided instead to encourage competition. VM is the result of that decision. Of course we don't know if BT really would have done 'the entire country' but that's what they offered. Given that the core of their network has been fibre for nearly 30 years I think it's pretty safe to say that they know exactly what it's capable of.

      Power Line Distribution a none-starter. It's been trialled but it just doesn't work very well. In any case this article isn't talking about PLD. It's talking about using the poles to string /additional/ cable running /alongside/ power lines. I've no idea if BT thought about that but it's kind of a cheeky thing to criticise them for. VM need such a strategy only because they don't already have cables in place. BT already have cables going everywhere - it's a requirement of their operating license. They likely have very areas where they need outside help with cabling.

      BT ripping people off for 50 years

      As above - Ofcom won't let them rip us off. In fact until recently BT's voice charges were lower than the US. Back in the 90s they were one of the few examples of something actually cheaper over here. I don't know how they compare now as I've lost track but I expect they are still quite competitive. Our broadband costs are supposedly amongst the lowest in the world but unfortunately that probably just explains why the service is often so poor. Still, even there at least we can claim almost 100% national coverage and tbh I think a couple of Mb/s for all is better than 100Mb/s for a few.

      Anyway there's the rather more obvious point that British Telecom didn't exist until 1980. Prior to that it was the Post Office. As happens there is a helluva lot of criticism you can level at it prior to 1980 (and yes, a lot that can be levelled at since then) but it doesn't make sense to ignore the privatisation in the 1980s. It changed a lot after that and mostly for the better.

      Anyway aside from correcting your post I would enjoy the chance to attack BT as much as the next person. Unfortunately I do insist that we attack where such attacks are justified if only because that ought to cover enough ground for anyone :)

  8. leona 2
    Thumb Down

    isn't it funny.

    That they can run cable out to the middle of the countryside, but not 5 meters (yes 5 Meters!) to MY HOUSE! deeming it to be 'too expensive', to lay the cable. but yet they can find the cash to run cable out to the middle of no where! I live in a city, the cable run right across the front of the row of houses. I will not use an unladylike word to describe me feelings about that! Its not the broadband I'm bothered about, I miss the cable TV! (sky just doesn't cut it, and its too expensive).

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      D I Y?

      >That they can run cable out to the middle of the countryside, but not 5 meters (yes 5 Meters!)

      If it's only 5 metres then why don't you pay for the trench? Either it's a trivial distance (as your post implies) and therefore won't cost much or else it will be horribly expensive in which case VM are probably being sensible in choosing not to do it.

      > (sky just doesn't cut it, and its too expensive)

      I'm not sure what to make of that. Sky's overall service (number of channels, amount of HD content) is better than VMs. The box isn't as good but it does the job. Now that Sky own VM's 'home grown' channels it guarantees that Sky's service will always offer more content than VMs. So you have to pay more. Meh. If they'd just drop the stupid HD surcharge on multi-room it wouldn't be so bad. At least they have enough HD content to justify the package charge on a one-off basis.

      I dunno. All-in-all the impression I get is that perhaps you want your cake but you're not prepared to pay for it. It sounds like you and OFCOM would get on well together. Unfortunately it's largely there policies that have nearly bankrupted the ISP industry and stifled investment and innovation for years to come.

      Sometimes if you want something you have to pay for it.

    2. Mark Aggleton
      Thumb Down


      The only place you see fibre in the 'countryside' is down the A roads linking the cities. No-one actually has cable in the 'countryside' or even in reasonable size towns. And it's metre.

  9. Captain TickTock

    Me! Pick Me! Pick Me!



    virgin expanding network

    so does this mean if its accepted and virgin get the go ahead does it mean they will upgrade exsisting bt areas or does it mean virgin will only do areas where there cable only areas i dont get this im confused lol. i hope they mean bt areas cause im sick of waiting i want fast reliable connection please now lets hope its good and goes through.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Virgin have 100s of Km of network on the electricity network (thanks to NTL, who bought it from Eastern Electricity).

    Virgin Media don't offer a "business" tariff. BT Broadband Business is about 20% more expensive than the home offering but has a better fault resolution process (i.e. you can get through).

    I'm in a Virgin Media area, I need my business to pay for the broadband and me, as an individual, to pay for the TV/Phone Calls (I use my mobile for business). My local Virgin store gave me the HQ number to call and they were useless. I'd have gone for the 50 Mbit/s offering - lost business. How many other consultants / contractors are also choosing not to give business to them for this reason?

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