Virgin Media Pulls The Plug On Westminster

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Virgin Media is withdrawing services from a Westminster conservation area, despite expanding elsewhere

Virgin Media is finding itself locked out of a Westminster conservation area. It claims that the BT cables it has been using have insufficient bandwidth to support the services it normally supplies.

The company has been receiving complaints from customers dissatisfied with the basic service they have been receiving through the analogue cables. Because the, unspecified, area of Westminster is a conservation zone, Virgin is unable to install new digital cables to support its “next generation” sevices.

Westminster has 56 conservation zones and Virgin will not say if there will be any other areas with similar problems but the withdrawal seems to have been on the cards for some time. In May, a user of the Virgin Media Community forum complained that the company was even refusing to install any new analogue connections.

More Twists In The Cable

Forum member Sim116s wrote he had been told “that they weren’t taking any new customers in the Westminster area and only looking after the current customer base with no alternatives given at all”.

The service will be completely withdrawn in January 2011 and Virgin said it is allowing its customers as much time as possible to find another supplier.

The move comes at a time when Virgin Media is expanding rapidly in other areas. It claims to have installed digital fibre cables to 73,000 premises this year and is well on course to exceed its target of 100,000 by the end of the year.

This is no comfort to the Westminster residents who not only have no fibre cables but cannot erect satellite dishes because of constraints. According to Virgin Media, it appears the problem is not with BT but with the local council which refuses to allow the roadworks required to lay fresh cable.

However, a Freedom of Information request to Westminster Council brought this response: “It is possible that Virgin Media, (as operators of Westminster Cable TV) or BT (as owners) may hold the information that you require and I have included their contact details for your reference. Please note that as private companies, Virgin Media and BT are not subject to the requirements of the Act and it is not therefore possible to transfer your request to them on your behalf.”

Sim116s claims that there may be light at the end of the cable because BT apparently has plans to upgrade the area to its fast broadband Infinity service in 2011.

It appears that between the halls of corporate BT and Virgin Media and the corridors of power at Westminster Council there is an impenetrable mist of secrecy – or maybe a porky pie shop.

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