Back in February Virgin Media said it would roll-out its highly-anticipated 100mbps (megabits per second) before the end of this year. Since then BT has been spending a lot of money promoting its own high-speed broadband, so the pressure is definitely on for VM to deliver.
Today VM issued a press release entitled "Virgin Media rolls out UK's fastest broadband with 100Mb". But the first sentence revealed it had merely announced: "...the rollout timetable of its highly anticipated ultrafast 100Mb broadband service, with pre-registration starting today." It turns out the service won't actually go on sale until December.
While we won't dwell on this unduly, we think VM should take a bit more care about the accuracy of their headlines. To resort to such a bending of the facts reveals the pressure it's under to compete with BT and get some return on its considerable network investment.
Neil Berkett, VM CEO, said: "The launch of our 100Mb service is a significant milestone in the UK's broadband evolution and a vivid illustration of the power of our next generation network. The world of possibilities that broadband will enable is set to explode and we're excited about the innovations we can bring to consumers in the next decade."
While the former state monopoly BT has continually bleated about the need for state funding to help it to build its fibre network, VM has - to the best of our knowledge - not troubled the tax-payer. Not only is this ideologically preferable, but politically desirable in these austere times. We suspect this is why VM managed to get the PM in on its announcement.
"We want to see superfast broadband brought to peoples' homes and businesses right across the country and this exciting news takes us a step closer towards reaching that goal," said David Cameron.
The 100mbps service will cost £45 per month by itself or £35 as part of a bundle. It will offer 10mbps upload speeds. The service will come with a new ‘SuperHub' modem (pictured below), which can handle speeds of up to 400mbps. The roll-out will start in parts of London, the South East and Yorkshire and won't be complete until 2012. You can pre-register for it here.
UPDATE: Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but VM also announced its Q3 results today, with revenue growth in all areas. "Our continued focus on exploiting our strategic advantages with the resulting multiple opportunities for revenue growth, as well as robust financial discipline has delivered another strong financial performance this quarter," said Berkett.
"We are extending our lead in broadband even further with the imminent availability of 100Mb as consumer demand for consistently faster broadband grows. Our confidence in our long term ability to maximize our advantages to deliver strong free cash flow means we have been able to begin to execute on our plans to return capital to stockholders. We have completed an initial buyback of £125m of stock and retain the authority for a further £250m in the coming months."