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Virgin Media to Piggy Back on BT Lines


Virgin Media to Piggy Back on BT Lines

Virgin Media will be able to use BT’s telegraph poles to extend its own network, following a ruling by Ofcom forcing BT it to open up its infrastructure to competitors.

The cable company had tried to come to an agreement with BT over sharing its network earlier this year, but the move was not successful. The Ofcom ruling however, has forced BT’s hand and Virgin Media will now be able to extend the reach of its fibre optic network to a further three million potential customers. This will extend its reach from 12.7 million to 15.5 million homes.

Virgin currently has been offering up to 50Mbits/sec over its network for nearly two years, while BT is starting to roll out its BT infinity service, which offers up to 40Mbits/sec download speeds.

“This is an important step that rightly focuses on opening up areas of the country not already served by super-fast broadband, removing one of the hurdles that make such developments near impossible at present,” the company said in a statement.

“However, we now need to ensure the price demanded for access to poles and ducts does not limit the ambitions of getting next-generation connectivity to those people living outside our towns and cities.”


October 9, 2010, 3:25 am

This once again shows how BT continues to try to monopolise the market with anti-competitive behaviour. This company has never changed its spots from the days of state ownership, the culture, the management and the people remain the same - trapped in the past. It is time that BT was broken up - infrastructure, services and technology to allow real competition and a true opportunity for this country to gain a competitive market in modern communications. Do not believe BT when it says it is committed to rolling-out broadband to communities - it is committed to making as much profit as is possible and will take whatever steps to protect their monopoly. However, we all know what happened to the the dinosaurs...roll on the ice age!


October 9, 2010, 5:13 pm

I take a different viewpoint and wonder if Virgin will be forced to share anything to BT in return.


October 9, 2010, 5:25 pm

@ MGS Agreed. With British railways, infrastructure was passed over to a separate company after privatisation.

I don't believe they've really done the same with communications. BT Openreach, although a separate company, is part of the 'BT Group'. These boys look after themselves and their friends more than the consumer.

Can anyone correct me? I wiki'd the info to get a better idea.


October 9, 2010, 8:52 pm

Sorry @MGS but I have to say that allowing BT's rival like Virgin Media to use BT infrastructure is not on and demonstrates Ofcom's commercial ineptitude. However, allowing BSkyB, Talk Talk and others like them to use it to roll out their own BB would have been entirely appropriate. I would guess that these people just want the lucrative areas and not invest and develop new areas.

Not surprising, Civil Servants and their colleagues in Quangos like Ofcome and BBC Trust, despite their Oxbridge and Eaton education and blue-blood heritage are inept when it comes to business. Look at the the shambles of the Digital Switch-over, BBC Trusts failure to deal with the Murdos, introduce proper HD channels and so allowing BSkyB free reign to grab HD customers.

NO, I don't have any connection with BT, just looking at the issue rationally.


October 9, 2010, 11:17 pm

@Simon They'll have to pay for it; they don't just get access for nothing.

@Enigma It looks like BSkyB, Talk Talk and others will have access. The statement from Ofcom just mentions "other communications providers".


October 10, 2010, 3:59 am

BT are a strange company not like they used to be. You ask them to put an extenstion in and they throw at you a £200 (we carnt be botherd deal). While a free-lanced engineer will get stuck in for £75. This a big problem these days when you have a fault and its BT's line and their solustion is go to your ISP. While your ISP will say, "well we have to fill in a fault request and tell BT to sort it"! Then the BT guy turns up with his stone face and says "whats wrong" in the most dead voice. In which a reply comes out didnt my ISP tell you?, no we dont talk to ISP's. Thats communication development I think dont you?

I carnt really think what 50MB's a second will benifit us but those of you who like P*** (you know what I mean) will probally benifit from it as you can get it longer, faster and you can think of the rest yourself. Mind you its great to get junk mail and all the rubbish faster isn't it?.

I suppose the future is watching TV streamed from your computer to another part of the UK or watching Blu-Ray Movies streamed over the Internet. The list goes on, but if we cannot communicate as humans as fast as the internet goes, well then what is the point?

There is a nice line and one side we have business and on the other we have its all about the money and who cares what happens how I make it. Personally god help us if we make it in the next 30 years through this hell on earth of a ressession and spending cuts.


October 10, 2010, 3:29 pm

@MGS: Monopoly? What? BT barely have a quarter of the total broadband market, if that.

Virgin have almost as many subscribers are BT and have been laying their FTTC cables for years so I wouldn't be surprised if that 2.8 million was over half of BT's FTTC network.

I assume Virgin either already share their network at the same price or lower that they'll have to pay to use BT's or this agreement applies both ways?


October 11, 2010, 10:07 am

@chrismbroome - fast speeds are good for BBC iplayer gaming etc. don't have HD access then you can watch BBC in HD on iplayer, not sure about the other channels but you can watch them normal def. also with those speeds many members of a household can use the internet at the same time without affecting each other, especially if you set your router up properly.

my twopence to this announcement is, being a VM customer, there will be more people to experience the VM customer service wink wink. I will say when there is no capping etc it is the best in the UK and on fibre outside of peak hours you will sometimes exceed your package download speeds.


October 11, 2010, 11:18 am

@Enigma - I can't see why BT can't share their poles with Virgin. The comparable companies (Telecom and Telstra-Saturn) in New Zealand have done so for years. There are restrictions on the use of the poles - height of the cables etc, but it works as a way of getting the fibre network spread further.

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