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Tom Mockridge, CEO of UK quad play operator Virgin Media, has suggested the company is now better placed to meet the demands of customers who are demanding greater bandwidth to enable consumption of their services.
Addressing a meeting of the Broadcasting Press Guild, Mockridge noted that since the company had been acquired by Liberty Global, who he described as long-term investors and practitioners in the industry, Virgin Media had access to the scale, skills and breadth of a much bigger organisation.
“That manifests itself in many way, not least the ability to purchase things across the group,” he suggested, noting broadband routers as one such product.
For Mockridge, the real story was the sheer volume of demand for services over the network. “We’re experiencing a 50 per cent growth rate per annum in capacity usage,” he revealed, adding that Virgin Media’s mission was to handle the capacity growth its customers were demanding.
“Structurally, you can do more on a cable network,” he said, suggesting that the Internet was now about much more than connecting up to an ADSL line and downloading e-mails. “It’s now really about the pipe of multiple video streams to TVs and other devices.”
He suggested that Virgin Media was not in a volume race in terms of quarterly numbers of subscribers compared with market competitors such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk. “We’re about building the business fundamentally.”
He remained open-minded about adding further OTT services such as Amazon’s Prime Instant Video to Virgin Media’s TiVo platform following the November 2013 launch, suggesting that the company saw itself primarily as a broadband supplier providing the capacity for its customers to consume content of their choice.
He also confirmed that there were no plans for Virgin Media to adopt the Horizon entertainment platform launched in the Netherlands in 2011 and now rolling out on Liberty Global networks across Europe. In the UK, two million Virgin Media TiVo customers have been connected since the service launched in December 2010 and Mockridge reported that the operator was still experiencing ‘several per cent growth’ in uptake. He said that Liberty Global was “not a software company” and “not religious” about Horizon. “They are saying if it [TiVo] works here, then we’re happy to maintain. If it didn’t work, we’d take a different view.”