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Virgin takes 65,000 orders for TiVo, grows base, revenues up

The big number in the Virgin Media results is the fact that 65,000 customers have pre-registered for the new TiVo box which will come with OTT and cab

By PETER WHITE

Published: 21 April, 2011

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The big number in the Virgin Media results is the fact that 65,000 customers have pre-registered for the new TiVo box which will come with OTT and cable services as a hybrid. So far rumors (pushed by rivals) have had it that Virgin had had nothing but trouble with the device and that only a few hundred homes have it. That may well be true, but twin facts that 65,000 have asked for it, and that Virgin is happy to tell the public they have asked for it, implying they have the confidence to deliver it shortly, is great news for TiVo and potentially a threat UK wide for pay TV rivals.

Virgin had plenty of other good news, and if Ziggo’s numbers were just what the doctor ordered for an approaching IPO (see separate story) the Virgin numbers were better. For a start more customers are signing up for TV with Virgin, not less and it has begun building out its cable infrastructure once again.

The TV additions are quite small at 10,000, which UK pundits will criticize, but that takes Virgin up to 3.79 million TV customers while its broadband has really be going up through the gears – with 39% of new broadband customers taking 20Mb or higher, up from 15% a year ago, taking total subscribers above the 20 Mb tier to 860,000 or 21% of the cable broadband base.

Virgin launched a new 30 Mbps tier in February, but has no number for that yet and says that over 150,000 customers take the Virgin 50Mb offer, double those from a year ago and it is in the process of rolling out 100Mb, in reach of 2 million homes and will be available right across the network by mid-2012.

“We will shortly begin a trial to test the real world application of speeds of up to 1.5Gbps. This will be the fastest cable broadband connection in the world ever tested and will demonstrate the long-term potential of our superior network,” the company said in a statement.

In February at Cable Congress in Switzerland it was revealed that Cablecom, a Liberty Global company, had played around with 1.4 Gbps, and before that Kabel Deutschland had some highly publicized trials with a 1 Gbps DOCSIS 3.0 line.

These were achieved on existing networks with an existing Cable Modem Termination System using multiple modulations and about 24 DOCSIS Channels, so we know it can be done.

All this activity and a strong growth at Virgin Mobile brought revenue in of £982.3 million for the quarter compared to £929.4 million last time (up 5.7%). Virgin also repurchased 7.2 million shares and has plans to retire $550 million of debt out of cash.

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