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Virgin Media multi-play offers services by cable AND phone

by Bob Crabtree on 9 February 2007, 16:41

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Virgin Media logo

Yesterday's formal re-naming of cable company ntl:Telewest to Virgin Media coincided with its introduction of (more accurately, the ability to place orders for) 10 bundles of services, up to and including some true quad-play packages of TV, internet, landline phone and mobile phone that start at £40 per month.

Bundle choices let you pick two services for £20 (phone+TV, phone+broadband and broadband+TV) and three for £30 (phone+TV+broadband, phone+TV+mobile, phone+broadband+mobile and TV+broadband+mobile).

Significantly, the company will be greatly extending its reach by providing BT-based phone, broadband and TV services in areas where there is no cable.

Virgin Media has also come up with a crafty way of getting more cable subscribers in at the bottom end (and keeping existing phone customers loyal) - by offering a new free TV service to everyone who has or signs up for a cable-phone.

As well as 39 TV channels and an unspecified number of DAB radio channels, the free service will also be offering from February 20 a free instant-play TV-on-demand channel - Virgin Central. Here users will be able to pick what to watch and the choice, the company says, will include "major TV series" such as The OC, Nip/Tuck, West Wing, Little Britain, Grey's Anatomy, Alias, Criminal Minds, CSI : Crime Scene Investigation and CSI : Miami.

At yesterday's briefing, it was openly admitted that the quality of customer service had been unacceptably poor for ntl users and far inferior to that enjoyed by those who'd signed up in Telewest areas.

However, it was claimed that things would be far better from now. According to the two top bods from ntl:Telewest (chairman Jim Moody and CEO Steve Burch) and Richard Branson himself - all with hands on heart - this was because there had genuinely been more than just a name-change.

Steve Burch, Richard Branson, Jim Moody
Steve Burch, Richard Branson and Jim Moody - picture from VisMedia

An extra 300 customer-care staff had been recruited, training had been greatly improved and the whole company ethos was being changed to reflect the customer-centred priorities of a Virgin company.

To us, though, more telling still was the statement that 19 out of 20 of the company's top executives have changed in the last year.

It all sounded very plausible - and calls we made yesterday to the company's support lines showed that front-line staff seem to think there really has been a sea-change.

But we can't help wondering just how certain anyone can be when Virgin Media isn't owned and run by Branson himself - it uses the Virgin brand on a sort of franchise basis, with Branson lending his support and name.

Time, of course, will show whether the fine words reflect genuine changes but there's little doubt that the company appears to be thinking and acting smarter than in the past.

And, as proof of that, dive over to page two and find out more about what deals Virgin Media is offering...