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Lightning Strikes: Virgin Media’s network expansion project nabs 99,000 cable customers

Virgin Media’s Project Lightning appears to be paying off; the cable company’s network expansion saw 99,000 new customers hop on board in 2015, a record level of customer growth. 

Since the project was announced a little over a year ago, Virgin Media’s cable network has grown from 12.6 million to 12.9 million. This alone suggests that the company is well on its way to hitting that target of 16 million premises passed by 2020. Virgin Media says that it plans to grow its cable footprint by over 500,000 more locations this year. 

While the great majority of properties covered by Project Lightning will be urban and suburban addresses that were already on the fringes of Virgin’s existing network – ‘in-fill’ in industry speak – the cable company’s also been experimenting with new ways of delivering FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) connections, mainly in rural locations

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media CEO, said: “These results demonstrate a strong financial performance from Virgin Media. We’ve grown revenue and operating cash flow and improved cost control, since becoming part of Liberty Global.
“More people than ever are choosing to switch to the UK’s fastest broadband speeds from Virgin Media, whether they are at home, at work or on the go.”

As well as launching Project Lightning last year, Virgin Media also kickstarted its latest round of speed boosts, cranking the top speed of its consumer broadband service up to a ‘vivid’ 200Mbps. 

During 2015, 158,000 new customers signed up for Internet services from Virgin Media and 69,000 of those hopped on board in the last three months, representing the highest growth for Virgin Media since 2010. A record 94,000 telephone customers also signed up for fixed-line services from Virgin last year. 

There’s no mention in the financial report issued by Liberty Global – Virgin Media’s parent company since February 2013 – of plans to roll out more WiFi connected paving slabs like the one in Chesham. Nor is there any mention of plans to enhance Virgin’s TV offering; in recent months we’ve seen music streaming service Vevo land on Virgin Media TiVo along with exclusive signing Ash vs Evil Dead

Virgin’s also been making a lot of noise about the perceived unfairness of football broadcast rights in the UK. It’s called on telecoms regulator Ofcom to launch an investigation into how broadcast rights to Premier League games are sold, which could result in restrictions on 3pm Saturday games lifted. Presumably, given the stink that Virgin’s been making, it would make a bid for said rights should they become available. Unless the whole #MoreBalls campaign is an incredible act of altruism. 


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