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Virgin Media: 350Mbps Broadband As Standard Will Drive SMB Growth Amid Brexit Uncertainty

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 Business will offer 350Mbps broadband as standard from 2 May and has confidence in UK post-Brexit despite parent’s pre-referendum prediction

Virgin Media Business is to offer 350Mbps ultrafast broadband as standard to customers, claiming the additional speeds and capacity will help small businesses grow during a period of political uncertainty caused by the UK’s impending departure from the EU.

Voom Fibre packages start at £30, with options at £40 and £55 including additional services such as support, static IP addresses and enhanced uplink speeds, and services will go live on 2 May.

At present, BT and other providers using the Openreach network can deliver up to 76Mbps superfast broadband over fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), but it and others are investing in fibre to the premise (FTTP) which delivers 1Gbps to SMBs and G.Fast, which will speed up FTTC to 330Mbps.

packetfront

Virgin Media Voom Fibre

“We hope and believe [Voom Fibre] will stir up the market,” said Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business, who claimed better broadband would help SMBs fulfil their digital potential.

“We’re living in a fairly uncertain time, even this week the election [is causing uncertainty]. Right now what we’re trying to do is bring some certainty, some stability. The economy is still moving at pace and we think one of the ways for companies to survive and thrive is broadband.

“There’s not many times you come to a market and say four and a half times faster than the competition.”

Alongside the new speeds, Virgin Media is also going to create a community for SMBs called ‘Voom Pioneers’. A spin-off from the company’s investment pitch competition judged by Richard Branson, Kelly said he hoped the community would be able to share experiences and ideas, particularly with regards to broadband which could enable the use of new applications.

But despite this promise of stability, the CEO of Virgin Media’s parent company Liberty Global warned prior to the referendum that Brexit could jeopardise future network investment in the UK because consumers and businesses would spend less on telecoms services.

Kelly said Liberty was firmly committed to the UK market.

“[Before the] Brexit vote there were lots of comments and positioning,” he said in response to a question from Silicon.

“Everyone, from governments to politicians to businesses to Mike Fries to Richard Branson, had opinions. People were entitled to those views.

“What I would say is, Mike has all along backed the UK. He spent a lot of money on Virgin Media, [Liberty Global] is very happy with the acquisition and he has backed the UK with a £3 billion investment. At no point did he say he’d take the money away.”

“We’re a bit smarter on the other side of the vote, the sky hasn’t fallen in.

Kelly added that although some larger companies might be reassessing their IT prorities, he expected the £15 billion invested in technology by UK organisations. in 2015 and 2016 to be spent in 2017

“My experience to date is the market has continued to trade well,” he said. “Of course it’s competitive, but what I’ve observed is that SMBs are moving on and investing in tech to keep their businesses going  forward.”

“Liberty is 100 percent committed to investing in UK infrastructure.”

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