BroadbandNetworks

Virgin Media Project Lightning ‘Back On Track’ As It Reaches 5m Broadband Customers

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Virgin Media adds 127,000 new properties to its network during Q2 and says the management issues that affected rollout have been resolved

Virgin Media has made progress in its £3 billion ‘Project Lightning’ network expansion, connecting 127,000 premises during the past three months following a series of setbacks. 

Project Lightning aims to extend Virgin Media’s cable footprint to 17 million by the end of 2019, but only 100,000 properties were connected during the first quarter of 2017. 

Parent Liberty Global admitted the project had missed expectations and attributed some of the blame to management changes. Now, its CEO Mike Fries is much more bullish, claiming those issues have been resolved.

Coaxial cable virgin media DOCSIS © zwola fasola Shutterstock 

Virgin Media broadband 

“With respect to Project Lightning, we’ve made significant strides in solidifying the foundation of the program through the appointment of a dedicated new leadership team, as well as an overhaul of key processes and procedures,” he said.  

“During Q2, we built 127,000 new premises at Virgin Media, including a record monthly build performance in June, and our cumulative total now stands at nearly 800,000 premises since the project’s inception.” 

Most of Project Lightning will cover areas already served by Openreach, in a bid to increase competition, although Some rural areas have been earmarked for expansion. 

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At present, the company’s network covers 13.7 million premises and it has  5 million broadband subscribers in the UK, adding 30,000 during the past three months – an estimated 46 percent of all new broadband subscriptions from all providers. 

Virgin Media’s pay-as-you-go gains in mobile were offset by a decline in contract customers, meaning it actually lost 7,500 users in Q2. It does however have 3 million mobile users overall. 

Revenue remained static at £1.2 billion, and Virgin Media has pledged to invest 2 million into its network this year. This will come at a cost however, with a 4.7 percent price increase set to come into force this November. 

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