‘Seasonably slow’ second quarter sees some gains but TV losses contribute to 7.2 percent drop in revenues
Virgin Media added 6,600 new broadband, 7,100 mobile and 7,600 new landline subscribers during the “seasonably slow” second quarter, but lost 12,000 TV customers during the same period as UK revenues for parent company Liberty Global fell by 7.2 percent to $1.76 billion (£1.13bn).
Overall, Virgin added 2,000 new subscriptions during the three months leading up to 30 June, but the total number of customers fell by 7,600.
This is despite the company’s network reaching 44,900 more homes than it did during the same quarter last year ahead of the first phases of its £3 billion Project Lightning network expansion.
The Branson-branded provider now has five million fixed customers who have taken out a total of 12.54 million subscriptions. It has 4.57 million broadband users, 4.23 million landline customers and 3.74 million television subscribers. Separately, its mobile service is used by three million people.
The cable network reaches 12.7 million homes, but Project Lightning is set to expand this to 17 million, with the first phase set to benefit 150,000 premises in Manchester.
The expansion will target areas close to its current footprint and places where consumers and businesses register their interest. This means cities rather than rural areas are likely to benefit, whereas BT has connected two million homes and businesses not covered by commercial fibre rollouts thanks to the government-funded Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.
However, Virgin Media claims its expansion will offer faster speeds and boost competition in areas already covered by BT. The Openreach network primarily uses Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology which uses existing copper wire for the final few hundred metres of the connection, delivering speeds of up to 76Mbps.
Virgin’s network offers up to 152Mbps, although it is worth noting that BT plans to rollout G.Fast across its infrastructure, potentially offering 500Mbps to the majority of the UK within a decade. To combat this, Liberty Global is testing technology that could result in 10Gbps speeds in the future.
Liberty Global future
Liberty Global’s total revenue across all its European and Latin American territories fell by 0.8 percent to $4.56 billion (£1.93bn) during the second quarter, with its various subsidiaries reaching 48.6 million properties across Europe.
The company is currently in negotiations with Vodafone about a possible exchange of assets, raising speculation the Newbury-based operator could buy Virgin Media, or that Liberty might decide to buy some more mobile assets.