It’s been a dramatic week for Virgin Media.
First, at the beginning of the week their CEO, Tom Mockridge, attacked their most powerful UK rival, BT, for its continued reliance on Government subsidy and its willingness to take from a government that was preaching austerity at every turn. Aimed not just at BT, but at the Government itself, the spokesman said that public money should not be spent on BT subsidies, particularly criticising ministers for “doing the wrong thing” by funding BT’s broadband rollout.
Claiming that it was unethical to pump public money into BT when every other telecomms provider must fund their broadband programmes with private capital, Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge went further in his criticism of both BT and the Government, telling press this week that BT was “absolutely doing the wrong thing” by taking money from a government that was, itself, deeply in debt, and telling them that the practice made “no sense” in such a time of austerity. Indeed, with so many essential national services being cut to ribbons, the continued subsidies for BT do seem unnecessary – from Virgin’s perspective. As Virgin is entirely dependent on its own infrastructure, BT’s success is purely a problem for them, while other telecomms companies like Sky and Three, who rely on BT’s physical infrastructure, are less troubled by their rivalry with BT as they need it to succeed if they want to keep using the cables, power and other infrastructure.
The claim by Mockridge came only a week after the European Commission backed the Government’s plans to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of UK households by 2017, a move supported by Virgin, who aim to build up their their own network substantially in that time.
However, these complaints were soon revealed to be only one movement of a one-two punch. The very same week as their attack on BT and the Government’s relationship, Virgin announced a new deal: they are now offering super-fast fibre optic broadband for only £4 for the first 6 months.
This is an offer that competitors will find extremely difficult to beat in the short term, and comes at the perfect time as they raise doubts about BT and position themselves as a credible alternative. After the agreed 6 months of ultra-cheap, ultra-fast broadband, the deal reverts back to a more normal £19 per month plus £17.99 line rental.
The deal includes connection speeds of up to 50Mbps, and also features free weekend calls to landline numbers, 0870 numbers and Virgin Mobile numbers. Subscribers to the deal recieve a Virgin Media Super Hub and the Virgin Quick-Start self-installation package, allowing them to easily set up their own internet system much more quickly and conveniently than if they’d had to wait for an installation professional.
With the new package, customers are connected as quickly as possible, able to use Virgin’s fibre broadband, and paying a pittance for it for 6 months. Combined with Virgin Media’s ongoing campaign to supplant BT and the other competitors using BT’s aging copper-wire network, the future looks bright for Virgin Media.