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Virgin Media plans London expansion as it faces relegation from broadband top three

Virgin Media plans a 0.8 per cent expansion of its broadband network as it battles TalkTalk for the title of Britain’s third largest broadband provider.

The cable provider will reach another 100,000 homes in East London this year to expand its coverage of 12.5 million UK homes.

At the end of June, Virgin had 4.42m broadband customers around the UK, having added 109,000 over the year, while TalkTalk was just behind with 4.21m after adding 135,000.

Bethnal Green hipsters will soon have Virgin's 152Mbps broadband on their doorstep
Bethnal Green hipsters will soon have Virgin’s 152Mbps broadband on their doorstep

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media chief executive officer, said: “Extending our network into East London means 100,000 more homes will benefit from the UK’s fastest most widely available broadband for the first time.
 
“This is a significant investment for Virgin Media and our largest, single network expansion project to date. We are very proud to be supercharging East London, helping thousands of people make the most of the UK’s exciting digital future.”

The network extension has already begun in Bethnal Green, Isle of Dogs, Newham and West Ham, with Stratford, Poplar, Stepney, Bow and East Ham to follow.

Virgin is only a few hundred thousand ahead of TalkTalk for broadband
Virgin is only a few hundred thousand ahead of TalkTalk for broadband

Virgin Media: we’re more superfast than the rest

Virgin also attempted to redefine superfast broadband up from 30Mbps to 50Mbps, a confusing idea we’ll ignore as we report that it now has 2.1m customers on the 50Mbps tier or higher – now the minimum for new sign-ups.

That’s an increase of 424,000 from April to June, as it continued upgrading customers to a maximum possible speed of 152Mbps.

And it’s way above the 2.3m superfast customers reported by BT Retail in its year-end results for 2014 at the end of June.

“Over 40 per cent of new internet acquisitions subscribed to 100 Mbps or higher speeds, including almost 15 per cent that subscribed to our top tier offering of 152 Mbps, which is double the top speed offered via VDSL providers,” Mockridge added.

Virgin's still struggling to add new TV subscribers

Virgin Media Q2 2014: still losing TV customers

With 3.7m TV subscribers – 32,000 fewer than a year ago – the best that can be said for Virgin’s TV performance is that it’s not losing them as fast as it was back then.

The outlook’s better for the TiVo smart PVR, which found 137,000 new subscribers from April to June to reach 2.3m homes – 60 per cent of the total.

Virgin also has 3.25m subscribers taking TV, broadband and phone, while an impressive 820,000 use Virgin for their TV, broadband, phone and mobile services.

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