Virgin Media

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Virgin Media Inc. is a company which provides fixed
Landline
A landline was originally an overland telegraph wire, as opposed to an undersea cable. Currently, landline refers to a telephone line which travels through a solid medium, either metal wire or optical fibre, as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, where transmission is via radio waves...

 and mobile
Mobile phone
A mobile phone is a device which can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link whilst moving around a wide geographic area. It does so by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile network operator...

 telephone
Telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

, television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 and broadband internet
Broadband Internet access
Broadband Internet access, often shortened to just "broadband", is a high data rate, low-latency connection to the Internet— typically contrasted with dial-up access using a 56 kbit/s modem or satellite Internet with inherently high latency....

 services to businesses and consumers in the United Kingdom. Its executive office is in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, United States and its operational headquarters are in Hook, United Kingdom.

The company was formed in March 2006 by the merger of NTL and Telewest
Telewest
Telewest, formerly Telewest Broadband and Telewest Communications was a cable Internet, broadband internet, telephone supplier and cable television provider in the United Kingdom...

, which created NTL:Telewest. A further merger with Virgin Mobile UK
Virgin Mobile UK
Virgin Mobile UK is a mobile phone service provider operating in the United Kingdom. The company was the world's first Mobile Virtual Network Operator, launched in 1999. Being a virtual operator, Virgin Mobile does not maintain its own network, and instead has contracts to use the existing network...

 in July 2006 created the first "quadruple-play
Quadruple play
In telecommunications, quadruple play is a marketing term combining the triple play service of broadband Internet access, television and telephone with wireless service provisions...

" media company in the United Kingdom, bringing together television, internet, mobile phone and fixed-line telephone services. All of the company's consumer services were rebranded under the Virgin Media name in February 2007.

Virgin Media owns and operates its own fibre-optic cable network
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

, the only national cable network in the United Kingdom. As of 31 December 2010 it had a total of approximately 4.8 million cable customers, of whom around 3.78 million were supplied with its television services (Virgin TV
Virgin TV
Virgin TV is a cable television service in the UK, owned by Virgin Media. Its origins come back from NTL and Telewest, two largest cable operators in the country, of which the two companies merged on 6 March 2006...

), around 4.01 million with broadband internet services and around 4.16 million with fixed-line telephony services. At the same date it had around 3.07 million mobile telephony customers. It competes primarily with British Sky Broadcasting
British Sky Broadcasting
British Sky Broadcasting Group plc is a satellite broadcasting, broadband and telephony services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, with operations in the United Kingdom and the Ireland....

, BT Group
BT Group
BT Group plc is a global telecommunications services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is one of the largest telecommunications services companies in the world and has operations in more than 170 countries. Through its BT Global Services division it is a major supplier of...

, Everything Everywhere
Everything Everywhere
Everything Everywhere Limited is a mobile network operator and internet service provider company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the largest mobile network operator in the UK, with around 28 million customers...

, O2, TalkTalk
TalkTalk
TalkTalk is a pay television, telecommunications and internet service provider company headquartered in London, United Kingdom...

 and Vodafone
Vodafone
Vodafone Group Plc is a global telecommunications company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest mobile telecommunications company measured by revenues and the world's second-largest measured by subscribers , with around 341 million proportionate subscribers as of...

.

Virgin Media has a primary listing on the NASDAQ Stock Market
NASDAQ
The NASDAQ Stock Market, also known as the NASDAQ, is an American stock exchange. "NASDAQ" originally stood for "National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations". It is the second-largest stock exchange by market capitalization in the world, after the New York Stock Exchange. As of...

 and a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

.

Telewest



Telewest originated in Croydon
Croydon
Croydon is a town in South London, England, located within the London Borough of Croydon to which it gives its name. It is situated south of Charing Cross...

 in 1984 under the name "Croydon Cable". In 1988 United Cable of Denver, US, acquired Croydon Cable. Franchises extended the company scope in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 and the south-west and south-east of England. In 1989 United Cable merged with United Artists Cable International. In 1991 United Artists merged with their largest shareholder TCI
Tele-Communications Inc.
Tele-Communications, Inc. or TCI was a cable television provider in the United States, for much of its history controlled by Bob Magness and John Malone....

 (now Liberty Media
Liberty Media
Liberty Media Corporation is an American media conglomerate and the control is exercised by company Chairman John C. Malone, who owns a majority of the voting shares....

), to form the largest cable operator in the US. TCI and US West
US West
U S WEST, Inc. was one of seven Regional Bell Operating Companies , created in 1983 under the Modification of Final Judgement , a case related to the antitrust breakup of AT&T...

 announced a joint venture, and in 1992 the joint venture company became Telewest Communications. In 1995 Telewest merged with SBC Communications, adding franchises in the Midlands and North West serving 1.3 million homes.

Telewest merged with General Cable in 1998, and acquired an outstanding interest in Birmingham Cable, adding a further 1.7 million franchise homes in Yorkshire, west London and Birmingham. Telewest purchased the remaining 50% stake in Cable London, one of the UK'S first cable TV companies founded by Stephen Kirk
Stephen kirk
Stephen Michael Kirk is a businessman and entrepreneur from London, UK.Stephen Kirk founded Cable London Plc along with Jerrold Nathan, Andrew Karney and Malcolm Gee., Broadsystem Ltd, and Broadsystem Ventures, which was a joint venture with Rupert Murdoch's News International...

, Jerrold Nathan, Andrew Karney
Andrew Karney
Andrew Karney, FIET, FRSA is a British electrical engineer, businessman and company director. He is chairman of the board for the international NGO, Tiri.-Career:...

 and Malcolm Gee, from NTL in 1999, adding 0.4 million franchise homes in north London. In April 2000 Telewest merged with Flextech
Flextech
Living TV Group was a British television content subsidiary of British Sky Broadcasting. It is now defunct as a company but Sky Living, Sky Livingit, Sky Living Loves and Challenge are still in operation by BSkyB.-Overview:...

, and in November extended its cable network with the acquisition of Eurobell, taking the total number of homes passed to 4.9 million. The company later became known as "Telewest Broadband" in a re-brand during 2001.

In subsequent years Telewest experienced many financial problems due to huge debts incurred as a result of constructing its cable network and of acquiring other cable companies and assets. In 2004 Telewest re-structured itself by swapping its unsecured debt
Unsecured debt
In finance, unsecured debt refers to any type of debt or general obligation that is not collateralised by a lien on specific assets of the borrower in the case of a bankruptcy or liquidation or failure to meet the terms for repayment....

 for 98.5% of its shares. The London FTSE
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

 then de-listed the consolidated shares. Major Telewest shareholders included Huff
Huff
Huff or huffing may refer to:* Huff , a Showtime television program* Huff * Huff and puff apparatus* Huff-Duff High Frequency Direction Finder* Huff-Daland Aero Corp...

 and Liberty Media
Liberty Media
Liberty Media Corporation is an American media conglomerate and the control is exercised by company Chairman John C. Malone, who owns a majority of the voting shares....

 (run by cable tycoon John Malone). Afterwards the company emerged from financial restructuring and completed a merger with NTL in 2006.

NTL



Barclay Knapp
Barclay Knapp
Barclay Knapp is a Senior Fellow in the Center for Financial Economics at The Johns Hopkins University, and has formed Charles Street Partners, to pursue financing and management opportunities in the telecommunications industry....

 and George Blumenthal
George Blumenthal
George R. Blumenthal is an American astrophysicist, astronomer, professor, and academic administrator. He is the tenth chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz.-Biography:...

, the founders of the cellular network company Cellular Communications, Inc., established International CableTel in 1993. They founded CableTel in order to take advantage of the deregulation
Deregulation
Deregulation is the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations that constrain the operation of market forces.Deregulation is the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations that constrain the operation of market forces.Deregulation is the removal or...

 of the UK cable market. Initially, Cabletel acquired local cable-franchises covering Guildford
Guildford
Guildford is the county town of Surrey. England, as well as the seat for the borough of Guildford and the administrative headquarters of the South East England region...

, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 and parts of Central Scotland
Central Belt
The Central Belt of Scotland is a common term used to describe the area of highest population density within Scotland. Despite the name, it is not geographically central but is nevertheless situated at the 'waist' of Scotland on a conventional map and the term 'central' is used in many local...

 and South Wales
South Wales
South Wales is an area of Wales bordered by England and the Bristol Channel to the east and south, and Mid Wales and West Wales to the north and west. The most densely populated region in the south-west of the United Kingdom, it is home to around 2.1 million people and includes the capital city of...

. In 1996 CableTel acquired National Transcommunications Limited (NTL), the privatised UK Independent Broadcasting Authority
Independent Broadcasting Authority
The Independent Broadcasting Authority was the regulatory body in the United Kingdom for commercial television - and commercial/independent radio broadcasts...

 transmission-network. In 1998 CableTel adopted "NTL" as its new name.

The company invested heavily in an expansion of its network and on acquisitions – including Cambridge Cable
Cambridge Cable
Cambridge Cable Ltd. was a limited company engaged in the provision of early video on demand. It provided cable infrastructure in the UK as part of the Cambridge Digital Interactive Television Trial .- History :...

 and the consumer cable division of Cable and Wireless, bought for $10bn, and partly paid for with a $5.5bn investment from France Telecom
France Télécom
France Telecom S.A. is the main telecommunications company in France, the third-largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It currently employs about 180,000 people and has 192.7 million customers worldwide . In 2010 the group had revenue of €45.5 billion...

. NTL also began to expand outside the UK in 1999, buying into markets on continental Europe and in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

.

NTL struggled with a collapse of the telecommunications markets from mid-2000, coupled with the rapid acquisition of local cable-operators and significant customer service
Customer service
Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.According to Turban et al. , “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer...

 problems. It then had to contend with the setting up in November 2002 of one of the UK's first consumer lobby groups, nthellworld
Nthellworld
nthellworld was one of the first mainstream independent consumer lobby groups in the United Kingdom, whose main focal point was British ISP and Cable television company ntl Group...

, with ntl:hell following shortly after.

NTL sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2002 in order to organise a refinancing deal. The company did not emerge from protection until January 2003, having converted around $11 billion of debt into shares. At the time, this amounted to the largest debt default
Default (finance)
In finance, default occurs when a debtor has not met his or her legal obligations according to the debt contract, e.g. has not made a scheduled payment, or has violated a loan covenant of the debt contract. A default is the failure to pay back a loan. Default may occur if the debtor is either...

 in US corporate history. The company reduced its debt to $6.4bn. A re-organisation split NTL itself into NTL Inc. (covering the UK and Irish markets) and NTL Europe Inc. (for the French, Swiss and German parts of the corporation). New executives replaced the NTL president, CEO and co-founder Barclay Knapp, as well as Stephen A. Carter
Stephen A. Carter
Stephen Andrew Carter, Baron Carter of Barnes, CBE , is a Scottish businessman and politician who was previously Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting in the United Kingdom Government.-Biography:...

, the MD and COO
Chief operating officer
A Chief Operating Officer or Director of Operations can be one of the highest-ranking executives in an organization and comprises part of the "C-Suite"...

.

After exiting Chapter 11 protection, NTL produced an operating profit. In 2004 it announced plans to split its broadcasting division off from the main company. In December 2004 NTL sold its broadcast unit to a consortium led by Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group (MCG) for £1.27 billion. (Macquarie renamed the division Arqiva
Arqiva
Arqiva is a telecommunications company which provides infrastructure and broadcast transmission facilities in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. The present company, with headquarters located at Crawley Court in the village of Crawley, Hampshire, was formed by National Grid Wireless...

in May 2005.) This sale allowed NTL to focus on its "core businesses" of providing communications packages and cable services.

By 2005 NTL's UK network consisted of a 7,800 km fibre
Optical fiber
An optical fiber is a flexible, transparent fiber made of a pure glass not much wider than a human hair. It functions as a waveguide, or "light pipe", to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber. The field of applied science and engineering concerned with the design and application of...

 backbone
Backbone network
A backbone network or network backbone is a part of computer network infrastructure that interconnects various pieces of network, providing a path for the exchange of information between different LANs or subnetworks. A backbone can tie together diverse networks in the same building, in different...

 with the potential to reach 8.4 million residential homes and around 610,000 businesses. In January of that year, NTL started rolling out Video On Demand
Video on demand
Video on Demand or Audio and Video On Demand are systems which allow users to select and watch/listen to video or audio content on demand...

. With content selected by NTL, the service covered genres including music videos, children's programming and adult entertainment, providing an extension to the basic "pay per view" services the company offered for film and sport content. The new service allowed customers to rewind, fast-forward and pause content.

Virgin.net



Virgin.net operated as an Internet service provider
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

 (ISP) in the UK from November 1996 onwards. Once a joint venture
Joint venture
A joint venture is a business agreement in which parties agree to develop, for a finite time, a new entity and new assets by contributing equity. They exercise control over the enterprise and consequently share revenues, expenses and assets...

 between NTL and the Virgin Group
Virgin Group
Virgin Group Limited is a British branded venture capital conglomerate organisation founded by business tycoon Richard Branson. The core business areas are travel, entertainment and lifestyle. Virgin Group's date of incorporation is listed as 1989 by Companies House, who class it as a holding...

, the ISP became wholly owned by NTL in 2004.

It sold a range of ADSL broadband packages through BT landline
Landline
A landline was originally an overland telegraph wire, as opposed to an undersea cable. Currently, landline refers to a telephone line which travels through a solid medium, either metal wire or optical fibre, as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, where transmission is via radio waves...

s to those living outside areas served by NTL's cable-television
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

 network. Virgin.net broadband customers could receive up to 8 Mbit/s downstream and 400 kbit/s upstream, with usage allowances depending on which package the user took. Virgin.net also offered bundled phone services via Carrier Preselect
Carrier Preselect
Carrier preselect is a term relating to the telecommunications industry. It is the process whereby a telephone subscriber whose telephone line is maintained by one company, usually a former monopoly provider , can choose to have some of their calls automatically routed across a different telephone...

 (CPS) to broadband subscribers. The service offered various usage allowances depending on which package a user took. Virgin.net also offered subscription-based and subscription-free dial-up Internet access. Prior to acquiring Virgin.net, NTL offered a similar package called NTL Freedom.

On 8 February 2007, the services provided by Virgin.net became integrated into the new Virgin Media brand as Virgin Media Beyond Cable. It was renamed as Virgin Media National in November 2008. NTL Freedom was merged into the new entity in January 2009.

Merger of NTL and Telewest


From late 2003 discussions commenced on a merger between Telewest and NTL. Thanks to their geographically distinct areas, NTL and Telewest had co-operated previously, as in re-directing potential customers living outside their respective areas. On 3 October 2005, NTL announced a USD$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

6 billion purchase of Telewest, to form one of the largest media companies in the UK. The merger agreement as structured would have left NTL having to negotiate with BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

 (the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's commercial arm) due to a change-of-ownership clause written into the agreement for UKTV
UKTV
UKTV is a digital cable and satellite television network, formed through a joint venture between BBC Worldwide, a commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Scripps Networks Interactive, spun off from The E.W Scripps Company in 2008...

, a joint venture with Telewest's Flextech
Flextech
Living TV Group was a British television content subsidiary of British Sky Broadcasting. It is now defunct as a company but Sky Living, Sky Livingit, Sky Living Loves and Challenge are still in operation by BSkyB.-Overview:...

 content division. To prevent this, Telewest instead acquired NTL.

The parties completed the merger on 3 March 2006, making the merged company the UK's largest cable provider, with more than 90% of the market. Once merged, the combined company renamed itself to NTL Incorporated, with ex-NTL shareholders controlling 75% of the stock and ex-Telewest shareholders 25%. Nine of the eleven directors of the new board came from NTL and two from Telewest.

Merger with Virgin Mobile


In December 2005 NTL:Telewest and Virgin Mobile UK
Virgin Mobile UK
Virgin Mobile UK is a mobile phone service provider operating in the United Kingdom. The company was the world's first Mobile Virtual Network Operator, launched in 1999. Being a virtual operator, Virgin Mobile does not maintain its own network, and instead has contracts to use the existing network...

 announced that talks had taken place regarding a merger.

Virgin Mobile's independent directors rejected the original bid of £817 million ($1.4 billion), taking the view that NTL's bid "undervalued the business". Sir Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies....

 reportedly expressed confidence that a re-structured deal could go ahead, and in January 2006 NTL increased its offer to £961 m (372p per share). On 4 April 2006, NTL announced a £962.4 m recommended offer for Virgin Mobile. According to reports, Branson accepted a mix of shares and cash, making him a 10.7% shareholder of the combined company.

The takeover completed on 4 July 2006, creating the UK's first 'quadruple play
Quadruple play
In telecommunications, quadruple play is a marketing term combining the triple play service of broadband Internet access, television and telephone with wireless service provisions...

' media company, bringing together television, broadband, mobile phone and fixed-line phone services. The deal included a 30-year exclusive branding agreement that saw NTL adopt the "Virgin" name after it completed its merger with Telewest. NTL:Telewest announced on 8 November 2006 it would change its name to "Virgin Media Inc".

2006 ITV merger proposal


On 9 November 2006, NTL announced it had approached the commercial television broadcaster ITV plc
ITV plc
ITV plc is a British media company that operates 12 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom...

 about a proposed merger, after a similar announcement by ITV. BSkyB effectively blocked the merger on 17 November 2006 by controversially buying a 17.9% stake in ITV plc, a move that attracted anger from NTL shareholder Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies....

, and an investigation from media and telecoms regulator Ofcom
Ofcom
Ofcom is the government-approved regulatory authority for the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in the United Kingdom. Ofcom was initially established by the Office of Communications Act 2002. It received its full authority from the Communications Act 2003...

. On 6 December 2006 NTL announced that it had complained to the Office of Fair Trading
Office of Fair Trading
The Office of Fair Trading is a not-for-profit and non-ministerial government department of the United Kingdom, established by the Fair Trading Act 1973, which enforces both consumer protection and competition law, acting as the UK's economic regulator...

 about BSkyB's move, and would withdraw its attempt to buy ITV plc, stating it did not believe it could currently make a deal on favourable terms.

Rebrand as Virgin Media



NTL Group's services – previously marketed under the NTL, Telewest and Virgin.net brands were merged with Virgin Mobile under the "Virgin Media" brand on 8 February 2007, referred to by Virgin as V Day.

In February 2007, Virgin Central
Virgin Central
Virgin Central was a barker channel from Virgin Media Television, promoting video-on-demand content. The service was launched on the Virgin Media cable television platform on 20 February 2007. Viewers were presented with a video loop promoting the programmes available...

, an on-demand service, gained the rights to begin showing episodes of the television show Lost
Lost (TV series)
Lost is an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. Lost is a drama series that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island...

(already shown on Sky1), and other shows including Alias
Alias (TV series)
Alias is an American action television series created by J. J. Abrams which was broadcast on ABC for five seasons, from September 30, 2001 to May 22, 2006...

and The OC. This service extended the on-demand service previously known as Teleport TV. Teleport TV was renamed TV Choice offering recently broadcast shows and other shows and series.

A channel agreement for Virgin Media to keep non-premium Sky
British Sky Broadcasting
British Sky Broadcasting Group plc is a satellite broadcasting, broadband and telephony services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, with operations in the United Kingdom and the Ireland....

 channels ended at midnight on 1 March 2007. Virgin Media and Sky failed to reach agreement on the issue, and Sky reacted by posting a letter to the public in major UK newspapers on 28 February 2007. Despite Sky's letter, Virgin Media blamed Sky for tyrannising them and inciting consumers to switch. The companies failed to resolve their differences, and subsequently after midnight on 1 March 2007, Virgin Media replaced the Sky1, Sky2
Sky2
Sky2 is a British television channel originally launched on 2 December 2002 as Sky One Mix. Sky2 is now available on Sky, Virgin Media, Smallworld Cable and TalkTalk TV platforms in the UK. It is also available in the Republic of Ireland on the UPC Ireland platform.-Rebrand:Sky One Mix was...

, Sky Travel
Sky Travel
Sky Real Lives was an in-house channel from BSkyB that showed extensive programmes about travel, adverts for travel agencies and documentaries. The channels closed on 19 August 2010.-History:...

, Sky Travel Extra, Sky Sports News
Sky Sports News
Sky Sports News is a 24-hour sports news channel in the United Kingdom. It is run by BSkyB whose sports channels include Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as Sky Sports HD1, HD2, HD3 and HD4....

 and Sky News
Sky News
Sky News is a 24-hour British and international satellite television news broadcaster with an emphasis on UK and international news stories.The service places emphasis on rolling news, including the latest breaking news. Sky News also hosts localised versions of the channel in Australia and in New...

 channel content with a standard message. Sky attributed part of the rate rise to the fact that the new deal would also include Sky3, Sky Arts
Sky Arts
Sky Arts and Sky Arts HD is the brand name for a group of art-oriented television channels offering 18 hours a day of programmes dedicated to highbrow arts, including theatrical performances, movies, documentaries and music...

 and undisclosed high definition
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

 and video on demand
Video on demand
Video on Demand or Audio and Video On Demand are systems which allow users to select and watch/listen to video or audio content on demand...

 content. Sky said the deal would cost only 3p per customer per day (roughly £35,000,000 per year), but Virgin said that a minimum payment guarantee included in the contract meant that the actual amount due would exceed twice the current payment.

On 2 March 2007 the National Consumer Council accused Sky and Virgin of "behaving like children" and stated that at the end of March 2007 it would consider whether or not to raise a super-complaint against them "that will help to knock heads together". Then on 5 March 2007 Virgin Media threatened to take legal action against BSkyB if the matter remained unresolved in 30 days. On 12 April 2007 Virgin Media filed a legal case in the High Court
High Court of Justice
The High Court of Justice is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

 against BSkyB under the UK Competition Act 1998
Competition Act 1998
The Competition Act 1998 is the current major source of competition policy in the UK along with Enterprise Act 2002. The act provides an updated framework for identifying and dealing with restrictive business practices and abuse of a dominant market position....

 and Article 82 of the EC Treaty
Treaty of Rome
The Treaty of Rome, officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, was an international agreement that led to the founding of the European Economic Community on 1 January 1958. It was signed on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany...

. BSkyB claimed that Virgin Media made little effort to further arbitration.

On 1 July 2007 it emerged that the private equity
Private equity
Private equity, in finance, is an asset class consisting of equity securities in operating companies that are not publicly traded on a stock exchange....

 investment firm The Carlyle Group
Carlyle Group
The Carlyle Group is an American-based global asset management firm, specializing in private equity, based in Washington, D.C. The Carlyle Group operates in four business areas: corporate private equity, real assets, market strategies and fund-of-funds, through its AlpInvest subsidiary...

 had initiated discussions to acquire Virgin Media Inc.

And then on 20 July 2007 an announcement appeared to the effect that Virgin had struck a deal with Setanta Sports
Setanta Sports
Setanta Sports is an international sports broadcaster based in Dublin, Ireland. Setanta Sports was formed in 1990 to facilitate the broadcasting of Irish sporting events...

 to offer six Setanta channels free of charge to XL- package customers, including 46 live Premier League football matches, 60 live Scottish Premier League
Scottish Premier League
The Scottish Premier League , also known as the SPL , is a professional league competition for association football clubs in Scotland...

 games and US PGA Tour
PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main men's professional golf tours in the United States and North America...

 golf.

On 9 May 2008 it was reported that Virgin Media and Sky had held talks to resolve the dispute.

On 4 November 2008 it was announced that an agreement had been struck for Sky's Basic channels – including Sky1, Sky2
Sky2
Sky2 is a British television channel originally launched on 2 December 2002 as Sky One Mix. Sky2 is now available on Sky, Virgin Media, Smallworld Cable and TalkTalk TV platforms in the UK. It is also available in the Republic of Ireland on the UPC Ireland platform.-Rebrand:Sky One Mix was...

, Sky3, Sky News
Sky News
Sky News is a 24-hour British and international satellite television news broadcaster with an emphasis on UK and international news stories.The service places emphasis on rolling news, including the latest breaking news. Sky News also hosts localised versions of the channel in Australia and in New...

, Sky Sports News
Sky Sports News
Sky Sports News is a 24-hour sports news channel in the United Kingdom. It is run by BSkyB whose sports channels include Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as Sky Sports HD1, HD2, HD3 and HD4....

, Sky Arts 1
Sky Arts
Sky Arts and Sky Arts HD is the brand name for a group of art-oriented television channels offering 18 hours a day of programmes dedicated to highbrow arts, including theatrical performances, movies, documentaries and music...

, Sky Arts 2
Sky Arts
Sky Arts and Sky Arts HD is the brand name for a group of art-oriented television channels offering 18 hours a day of programmes dedicated to highbrow arts, including theatrical performances, movies, documentaries and music...

, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2 to return to Virgin Media from 13 November 2008 until 12 June 2011. In exchange Sky will be provided continued carriage of Virgin Media Television's channels – Living, Livingit, Bravo, Bravo +1, Challenge, Challenge Jackpot
Challenge Jackpot
Jackpot247 is an interactive gambling website owned by NetPlayTV plc, with television segments on ITV1's The Zone, Super Casino and Vox Africa. The "Challenge Jackpot" brand was dropped in September 2011 and replaced by "Jackpot247"...

 and Virgin1 for the same period. The agreements include fixed annual carriage fees of £30m for the channels with both channel suppliers able to secure additional capped payments if their channels meet certain performance-related targets. As part of the agreements, both Sky and Virgin Media have agreed to terminate all High Court proceedings against each other relating to the carriage of their respective basic channels.

On 26 August 2009 the Advertising Standards Authority
Advertising Standards Authority (United Kingdom)
The Advertising Standards Authority is the self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry in the United Kingdom. The ASA is a non-statutory organisation and so cannot interpret or enforce legislation. However, its code of advertising practice broadly reflects legislation in many instances...

 upheld claims made by Virgin Media in its marketing, despite a complaint from rival broadband provider Sky."

Virgin Media Television


Virgin Media Television, the former content subsidiary of Virgin Media (formerly called Flextech), operated a number of wholly owned channels (including Bravo, LIVING, Trouble and Challenge).

In June 2007 Virgin announced plans to launch a new television channel on Freeview and cable, replacing Ftn
Ftn
Ftn was a television channel from Virgin Media Television transmitting free-to-air on Freeview and Virgin Media, and as a subscription channel on Sky Digital. The channel was broadcast between 18:00 and 06:00 daily...

 on Freeview. The new channel, "Virgin1" and "Virgin1+1", launched on 1 October 2007 and broadcasts a mix of British and American programming.

On 4 June 2010, British Sky Broadcasting and Virgin Media announced that they have reached agreement for the acquisition by Sky of Virgin Media Television. The companies have, in parallel, agreed to enter into a number of agreements providing for the carriage of certain Sky standard and high-definition (HD) channels. Sky acquired VMtv for a total consideration of up to £160 million in cash, with £105 million paid on completion and the remainder paid following the regulatory process. The acquisition expanded Sky's portfolio of basic pay TV channels and eliminated the carriage fees it previously paid for distributing VMtv channels on its TV services. New carriage agreements will secure wholesale distribution of Sky's basic channel line-up, including Sky1 and Sky Arts
Sky Arts
Sky Arts and Sky Arts HD is the brand name for a group of art-oriented television channels offering 18 hours a day of programmes dedicated to highbrow arts, including theatrical performances, movies, documentaries and music...

, and the newly acquired VMtv channels, on Virgin Media's cable TV service. For an incremental wholesale fee, Virgin Media will, for the first time, have the option of carrying any of Sky's basic HD channels, Sky Sports
Sky Sports
Sky Sports is the brand name for a group of sports-oriented television channels operated by the UK and Ireland's main satellite pay-TV company, British Sky Broadcasting. Sky Sports is the dominant subscription television sports brand in the United Kingdom and Ireland...

 HD 1 and Sky Sports HD 2, and all Sky Movies
Sky Movies
Sky Movies is the collective name for the premium subscription television movie channels operated by Sky Television, and later British Sky Broadcasting. It has around 5 million subscribers, via satellite, cable and IPTV in the UK and Ireland...

 HD channels. Virgin Media will make available through its on-demand TV service a range of content from Sky's basic and premium channels, including the newly acquired VMtv channels. Virgin Media will also have access to red button interactive sports coverage and the opportunity to deliver selected standard definition programming over the internet. Sky will assume responsibility for selling advertising for the newly acquired VMtv channels from January 2011. Completion of the agreements was conditional on obtaining merger control clearance in the Republic of Ireland.

Virgin1 was also a part of the deal but was rebranded as Channel One on 3 September 2010, as the Virgin name was not licensed to Sky. The new carriage deals are understood to be for up to nine years. Previously the carriage deals tended to be struck every three years.

On 29 June 2010, the Irish Competition Authority
Competition Authority (Ireland)
The Competition Authority is the statutory body responsible for regulating competition in the Republic of Ireland. The authority was established under the Section 10 of the to assume the functions of the defunct Fair Trade Commission. The changed the authority from an office of the Department of...

 cleared the proposed transaction. The parties proceeded after the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation did not direct the Authority to carry out a full investigation within 10 days of the date of the Authority’s decision.

On 13 July 2010, British Sky Broadcasting and Virgin Media announced the completion of Sky's acquisition of Virgin Media Television (VMtv) following regulatory approval in the Republic of Ireland. VMtv was then re-named the Living TV Group. In completing the acquisition, Sky paid Virgin Media an initial £105 million with up to an additional £55 million to be paid upon UK regulatory clearance.

On 20 July 2010, the Office of Fair Trading
Office of Fair Trading
The Office of Fair Trading is a not-for-profit and non-ministerial government department of the United Kingdom, established by the Fair Trading Act 1973, which enforces both consumer protection and competition law, acting as the UK's economic regulator...

 (OFT) announced they would review BSkyB's acquisition of Virgin Media Television to judge whether it posed any competition concerns in the UK. The OFT planned to investigate the deal to see whether it could constitute a qualifying merger under the Enterprise Act 2002
Enterprise Act 2002
The Enterprise Act 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which made major changes to UK competition law with respect to mergers and also changed the law governing insolvency bankruptcy.-Structure:*Part 1 The Office of Fair Trading...

. The watchdog invited interested parties from the industry to comment on the sale, including its potential impact on the pay-TV market. On 14 September 2010, The OFT decided not to refer BSkyB's takeover of Virgin Media's TV channels to the Competition Commission
Competition Commission
The Competition Commission is a non-departmental public body responsible for investigating mergers, markets and other enquiries related to regulated industries under competition law in the United Kingdom...

.

Sit-up Ltd



Virgin Media owned Sit-up Ltd until 1 April 2009 - this followed partial ownership prior to May 2005. Sit-up is a UK based broadcaster which launched in 2000. Sit-up runs the channels bid tv
Bid tv
Bid is a British television shopping channel based in the UK, that runs daily live reversed auctions. It was the first channel of its kind in the world. The channel first launched as Bid-Up.tv. The channel is owned by Bid Shopping.-Bid-Up.TV :...

, price-drop tv
Price-drop tv
Price Drop is a British television shopping channel based in the UK, that runs daily live reversed auctions. It was the first reverse auction channel of its kind in the world. The channel first launched as Price-Drop.TV. The channel is owned by Bid Shopping....

 and speed auction tv
Speed auction tv
Speed Auction is a British television shopping channel, based in the UK that runs daily live reversed auctions. The channel is owned by Bid Shopping....

 each day from 7.45 am through to 1.30 am. The downtime is covered by their rolling advertisement arm, Screenshop
Screenshop
Screenshop is a British digital television channel, owned by Sit-up Ltd. It is an infomercial-based shopping channel, selling a wide variety of products from TV Warehouse. On Virgin Media and Sky, the channel has a 7 hour stream of its own, and additionally it broadcasts daily 1.30am to 7.45am,...

. The channels are designed to sell consumer products via digital TV (currently carried by digital satellite, cable, and terrestrial) or the internet. On 1 April 2009 it was announced that Sit-up Ltd had been sold by Virgin Media to AURELIUS AG. The purchase price or terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

UKTV



UKTV
UKTV
UKTV is a digital cable and satellite television network, formed through a joint venture between BBC Worldwide, a commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Scripps Networks Interactive, spun off from The E.W Scripps Company in 2008...

 is a digital cable and satellite television network, formed through a joint venture between BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

, a commercial subsidiary of the BBC, and Virgin Media. It is one of the United Kingdom's largest television companies. UKTV's channels are available via satellite and cable in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. In the UK, on digital terrestrial television, Yesterday and Dave are available on the Freeview platform, and selected parts of G.O.L.D., Home and Good Food are available through Top Up TV. From 2008 UKTV are considering airing localised versions of their channels in the Republic of Ireland market featuring local advertisements and sponsorship. They are also now considering HD versions of their channels in 2009, and have recently rebranded all of their channels, removing 'UKTV' from their names. Watch
Watch (TV channel)
Watch is a general entertainment channel broadcasting in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as part of the UKTV network. The channel launched on 7 October 2008 on satellite through Sky and on cable primarily through Virgin Media.-History:...

 is currently the flagship channel operated by the network. It is a general entertainment channel from UKTV that launched on 7 October 2008.

On 15 August 2011, Virgin Media agreed to sell its 50% stake in UKTV to Scripps Networks Interactive
Scripps Networks Interactive
Scripps Networks Interactive is an American media company formed on July 1, 2008 as a spin out of the E.W. Scripps Company. Since launching HGTV in 1994, Scripps has become a leader in lifestyle media, developing relevant content for television, the Internet satellite radio, books, magazines, and...

 in a deal worth £339m. Scripps paid £239m in cash, and about £100m to acquire the outstanding preferred stock and debt owed by UKTV to Virgin Media. Completion of the transaction was contingent on regulatory approvals in Ireland and Jersey, which was received on 3 October 2011. Related to the transaction, Scripps Networks Interactive and BBC Worldwide are negotiating an agreement whereby, after completion, BBC Worldwide would have the option, via a combination of cash and a package of digital rights for UKTV, to increase its shareholding from 50 percent to a maximum of 60 percent. Scripps Networks Interactive’s existing voting rights and Board representation would be unaffected by this proposed arrangement, which would be subject to BBC Executive and BBC Trust approvals.

Operations



Virgin Broadband


The broadband division combines NTL's cable-broadband operations (broadband Internet access
Broadband Internet access
Broadband Internet access, often shortened to just "broadband", is a high data rate, low-latency connection to the Internet— typically contrasted with dial-up access using a 56 kbit/s modem or satellite Internet with inherently high latency....

 connections through cable
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

), Blueyonder (Telewest's cable-broadband operations) and Virgin.net (ADSL, broadband Internet access through a non-cable telephone line).

Virgin Broadband in cabled areas is marketed as "fibre optic broadband". It is a FTTN network, where fibre optic trunk lines are used to connect the area's headend
Cable television headend
A cable television headend is a master facility for receiving television signals for processing and distribution over a cable television system. The headend facility is normally unstaffed and surrounded by some type of security fencing and is typically a building or large shed housing electronic...

 to cabinets on the street. It is not a fibre to the home service like Verizon FiOS
Verizon FiOS
Verizon FiOS is a bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service which operates over a fiber-optic communications network. It is offered in some areas of the United States by Verizon Communications. Verizon was one of the first major U.S...

; instead, the link between the cabinet and the customer uses DOCSIS 3.0
DOCSIS
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification is an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-speed data transfer to an existing cable TV system...

 over coaxial copper cable.

In July 2009 and 2010, Virgin Media Broadband came first in an Ofcom
Ofcom
Ofcom is the government-approved regulatory authority for the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in the United Kingdom. Ofcom was initially established by the Office of Communications Act 2002. It received its full authority from the Communications Act 2003...

 broadband speed test in the UK. Ofcom tested typical speeds of broadband services provided by most ISPs in the UK, including BSkyB, BT, Tiscali, AOL, TalkTalk, Plusnet, O2 and Orange. Since most broadband connections in the UK are provided by ADSL, and the quality of individual phone lines varies according to distance from exchange, most landline broadband services are marketed as being the maximum speed that the individual's phone line will support, "up to 8mb". As a result, actual speeds obtained vary greatly, but are always constrained by the individual phone line - the quality of which is out of the control of the broadband provider. Cable broadband has no such speed variability caused by connection quality as the network is fully owned and controlled by the cable company providing the broadband - any slowdowns are wholly as a result of traffic shaping, or local capacity being over-sold or over-subscribed. For this reason, the results showed that Virgin Media's broadband speed was closer to (although still not 100% of) the "up to" figures it advertised, compared to the other providers tested. While landline broadband providers offered rates of "up to" 24 Mbit/s, the launch of a Virgin's 50 Mbit/s service on 15 December 2008 was advertised as "the UK's Fastest Broadband."

On 8 October 2009, Virgin Media began trials to deliver its TV and broadband services at up to 50 Mbit/s downstream via a VDSL2
Very high speed digital subscriber line 2
Very-high-speed digital subscriber line 2 is an access technology that exploits the existing infrastructure of copper wires that were originally deployed for traditional telephone service. It can be deployed from central offices, from fiber-optic connected cabinets located near the customer...

 line to a roadside cabinet. The cabinets were linked to Virgin Media backhaul via new fibre laid by Vtesse Networks through BT's local exchange, 5 km away. As well as broadband, Virgin Media offered its full range of TV services, including high definition and on demand, over the new infrastructure.

On 11 March 2010, Virgin Media announced a six month trial using telegraph poles
Utility pole
A utility pole is a pole used to support overhead power lines and various other public utilities, such as cable, fibre optic cable, and related equipment such as transformers and street lights. It can be referred to as a telephone pole, power pole, hydro pole, telegraph pole, or telegraph post,...

 to deliver 50 Mbit/s broadband and TV services to the Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

 village of Woolhampton
Woolhampton
Woolhampton is a village and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. The village is situated on the London to Bath road between the towns of Reading and Newbury...

. Virgin Media identified more than one million homes in parts of the UK that stand to benefit from deployment over telegraph poles, without the need for government subsidy. During July the trial was extended to existing commercial infrastructure in the Welsh village of Crumlin, Caerphilly
Caerphilly
Caerphilly is a town in the county borough of Caerphilly, south Wales, located at the southern end of the Rhymney Valley, with a population of approximately 31,000. It is a commuter town of Cardiff and Newport, which are located some 7.5 miles and 12 miles away, respectively...

.

On 7 October 2010, Ofcom ordered BT to open up its fibre-optic network to competing broadband providers to help drive forward the rollout of high-speed internet services in the UK. Ofcom further ordered BT to free up access to network infrastructure - including all telegraph poles and underground ducts - for the rollout of broadband to areas BT does not plan to reach. Virgin Media confirmed plans to expand its broadband network in the UK by using the infrastructure owned by BT. By using the approach, the company hoped to expand its network to reach as many as 16 million of the UK's 26m homes.

On 27 October 2010, Virgin Media announced its 100 Mbit/s downstream broadband service, featuring 10 Mbit/s upstream rates, which went on sale on 8 December 2010. Early service areas were parts of London, the South East and Yorkshire. With the faster upstream rates specifically, it expects the uptake in so-called cloud computing
Cloud computing
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network ....

 services will also see an increase. The roll-out was expected to be complete by mid-2012.

Packages


The 2010 services offered to cabled areas were:
Package Downstream  Upstream
Upstream (networking)
In computer networking, upstream refers to the direction in which data can be transferred from the client to the server . This differs greatly from downstream not only in theory and usage, but also in that upstream speeds are usually at a premium...

 
Throttling threshold (downstream)
L 10 Mbit/s 1 Mbit/s See section below
XL 30 Mbit/s 3 Mbit/s See section below
XXL 50 Mbit/s 5 Mbit/s None
100 100 Mbit/s 10 Mbit/s None


The L package includes a Virgin Media Hub (cable modem
Cable modem
A cable modem is a type of network bridge and modem that provides bi-directional data communication via radio frequency channels on a HFC and RFoG infrastructure. Cable modems are primarily used to deliver broadband Internet access in the form of cable Internet, taking advantage of the high...

 with integrated 802.11n wireless router
Wireless router
A Wireless router is a device that performs the functions of a router but also includes the functions of a wireless access point and a network switch. They are commonly used to allow access to the Internet or a computer network without the need for a cabled connection. It can function in a wired...

). The XL, XXL and 100 packages include a Virgin Media Super Hub (DOCSIS 3
DOCSIS
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification is an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-speed data transfer to an existing cable TV system...

 cable modem with integrated 802.11n wireless router). Equipment remains property of Virgin Media.

Bandwidth throttling


Virgin Broadband employs an unusual form of bandwidth throttling
Bandwidth throttling
Bandwidth throttling is a reactive measure employed in communication networks to regulate network traffic and minimize bandwidth congestion. Bandwidth throttling can occur at different locations on the network. On a local area network , a sysadmin may employ bandwidth throttling to help limit...

 whereby customer bandwidth is reduced temporarily after a threshold is reached during peak periods. The company has experimented with and revised all parameters involved in the throttling, such as threshold size, peak period definitions, throttling percentage and duration. Separate thresholds are applied to upstream and downstream, and thresholds vary between packages. The XXL 'Unlimited' package is not throttled on the downstream, but is throttled on the upstream.

Example of throttling in action (based on May 2009 scheme): Customer has an L (10 Mbit/s) package, which has a 3GB threshold during 10 am-3pm and a 1.5 GB threshold between 4 pm-9pm with a 75% throttle for five hours. Customer downloads over 3GB on Tuesday morning between 10 am-3pm. The customer is then throttled to 2.5 Mbit/s for the next five hours from the time that they exceed the threshold, after which normal service is resumed.

Proxy servers


Virgin Media redirects web browser traffic on port 80 through transparent proxy server
Proxy server
In computer networks, a proxy server is a server that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource available from a different server...

s with a view to saving on bandwidth costs and improving browsing performance by caching
Cache
In computer engineering, a cache is a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere...

 often-visited sites. This does not apply to any other form of traffic. Up to 16 proxy server addresses hosted each area.

The use of proxy servers (generally, not specific to Virgin Media) also caused problems for websites which use less sophisticated methods to identify IP addresses to ban and/or track users. Some users of Mac OS X
Mac OS X
Mac OS X is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. Since 2002, has been included with all new Macintosh computer systems...

 had also experienced incompatibilities when using some sites (including MySpace
MySpace
Myspace is a social networking service owned by Specific Media LLC and pop star Justin Timberlake. Myspace launched in August 2003 and is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. In August 2011, Myspace had 33.1 million unique U.S. visitors....

).

Usenet servers


Virgin Media hosts several operational Usenet servers (NNTP) “news.virginmedia.com”. Virgin media also hosts another operational Usenet server previously known as "text.news.ntlworld.com", now "text.news.virginmedia.com", which again has certain restrictions and limits article size to 50kb.

Crackdown on illegal filesharing of copyrighted material


On 2 April 2008, The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

reported that Virgin Media would be starting a trial to take action against subscribers who are illegally downloading copyrighted material from internet Peer-to-peer (P2P
Peer-to-peer
Peer-to-peer computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads among peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the application...

) services. Information of offenders would be provided by the British Phonographic Industry
British Phonographic Industry
The British Phonographic Industry is the British record industry's trade association.-Structure:Its membership comprises hundreds of music companies including all four "major" record companies , associate members such as manufacturers and distributors, and hundreds of independent music companies...

, and then Virgin Media and the BPI sends a warning letter to the customer.

Virgin Media and the BPI denied reports of any agreement or pilot scheme and said they were only in talks on the matter. However, at least one person claimed to have received a letter threatening disconnection. Although the UK government backed plans to ban p2p users from the internet, it may soon be overturned by strong condemnation from the European Parliament on the grounds of privacy issues and the importance of internet access.

In July 2008, the BBC reported that 800 Virgin Media customers who the BPI claim are sharing copyrighted files were sent warning letters in envelopes marked "If you don't read this, your broadband connection could be disconnected". At least one recipient of the letter denied any wrong doing by any authorised user of his broadband connection.

On 26 November 2009, it was revealed that Virgin Media would trial deep packet inspection technology to measure the level of illegal filesharing on its network. The CView system, provided by Detica
Detica
Detica is an international business and technology consulting firm owned by BAE Systems. It specialises in collecting, managing and exploiting information to reveal actionable intelligence...

, will look at traffic and identify the peer-to-peer packets. It will then peer inside those packets and try to determine what is licensed and what is unlicensed, based on data provided by the record industry. The trial - which has no scheduled end date - will cover about 40 per cent of Virgin Media's network but those involved will not be informed. Virgin Media emphasised that it is seeking to measure the overall level of illegal filesharing, not to keep records on individual customers. Data on the level of copyright infringement will be aggregated and anonymised.

On 22 January 2010, the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 confirmed that although Virgin Media had not contacted them, it would "closely monitor" the trial. While Privacy International
Privacy International
Privacy International is a UK-based non-profit organisation formed in 1990, "as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations." PI has organised campaigns and initiatives in more than fifty countries and is based in London, UK.-Formation, background and...

 announced that it would press a criminal complaint with the Metropolitan Police Service
Metropolitan Police Service
The Metropolitan Police Service is the territorial police force responsible for Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police...

, because they argue that Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations (PECR) and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) as well as the European ePrivacy Directive, that interception and processing of communications requires either explicit informed consent from all parties or a warrant.

Virgin Media Business


On 11 February 2010, Virgin Media announced that its business division would be rebranded as Virgin Media Business with immediate effect. The company, which had been operating as ntl:Telewest Business, is now the largest B2B brand in the Virgin Group. This marked the end of the NTL and Telewest brand being used by the company.

In September 2010, Virgin Media Business launched Big Red Internet, the first dedicated business internet service, without constraints or extra charges.

During November 2010, Virgin Media Business became the first telecommunications provider in the world to re-certify its Ethernet portfolio under MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) 9 and 14 service validation structure.

Later that month, Virgin Media Business committed its support and super-fast, nationwide fibre-optic network to the UK Government to underpin the Public Services Network, the Cabinet Office programme designed to deliver substantial cost savings through a ‘network of networks’ for public sector organisations.

In January 2011, London Grid for Learning (LGfL) selected Virgin Media Business to power a £200 million framework agreement to transform the delivery of public services in and around London.

In February 2011, Virgin Media Business launched a new proposition offering data centres access to carrier grade connectivity.

After undergoing a successful security audit and rigorous testing across the entire Virgin Media network, in accordance with the new NGN 2-2-4 security standards, Virgin Media Business was awarded the UK’s first interim Public Services Network security accreditation in April 2011. The accreditation meant that Virgin Media Business was the first organisation allowed to operate as a Direct Network Service Provider (DNSP) and a Government Conveyance Network Service Provider (GCNSP). Full accreditation was awarded in July 2011.

During May 2011, Virgin Media Business partnered with data centre provider, ICM, to launch a Colocation service. The service offers businesses access to 11 data centres across the UK.

June 2011 saw Virgin Media Business and Westminster City Council launch a new £190 million pan-London IT framework. The Next Generation Network resource will act as a “one stop shop” for procurement to allow public sector organisations across the capital to buy phone, data and video technology, as well as CCTV and Wi-Fi at competitive prices.

In July 2011, Virgin Media Business was awarded one of three places on the Government Procurement Service Managed Telecommunications Convergence Framework (MTCF). The new framework will act as a resource for public sector organisations to buy Public Services Network compliant technologies, and is the first such framework in the UK.

In September 2011, Virgin Media Business signed a deal with Mobile Broadband Network Ltd to provide the UK’s first synchronous Ethernet mobile backhaul network – expanding the bandwidth available to Hutchinson 3G UK and Everything Everywhere for their 3G and 4G network requirements with 1Gigabit per second connectivity.

In September 2011, the division announced that it had partnered with Savvis to launch its first true cloud product, the Virtual Private Data Centre (VPDC).

Virgin Media Business is the UK’s only telco with a nationwide fibre optic Next Generation Network. Organisations working with Virgin Media Business include London City Airport, Arqiva, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership and South West Water.

Virgin Mobile



Virgin Media owns Virgin Mobile Telecoms Limited, a virtual mobile-network operator in the United Kingdom, with over four million subscribers.

Virgin Phone


Virgin Phone offers landline telephone services; it ranks as the number two service behind the former UK state monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

, BT Group
BT Group
BT Group plc is a global telecommunications services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is one of the largest telecommunications services companies in the world and has operations in more than 170 countries. Through its BT Global Services division it is a major supplier of...

.

On 1 April 2010, Virgin Media began to offer free home phone to mobile calls. Virgin Phone customers are able to call Virgin Mobile customers at no charge, within the Talk Plan specified periods.

Virgin TV


Virgin TV
Virgin TV
Virgin TV is a cable television service in the UK, owned by Virgin Media. Its origins come back from NTL and Telewest, two largest cable operators in the country, of which the two companies merged on 6 March 2006...

, the digital cable television service from Virgin Media, ranks as the UK's second largest pay TV service, having 3.6m subscribers, compared to BSkyB's 8.2m as of Q3 2007.

55% of UK households potentially have access to Virgin's network, while anyone in the UK with a line-of-sight view of the Astra
SES Astra
Astra is the name for the geostationary communication satellites, both individually and as a group, which are owned and operated by SES S.A., a global satellite operator based in Betzdorf, in eastern Luxembourg. The name is sometimes also used to describe the channels broadcasting from these...

 & Eurobird
Eurobird
Eurobird is the name for a set of satellites owned by Eutelsat. The Eurobird satellites provide broadcasting and telecommunication services primarily to the Western and Central European region from orbital positions of 28.5, 25.5 and 33 degrees East....

 satellites at 28.2° east
Astra 28.2°E
Astra 28.2°E is the name for the group of Astra communications satellites co-located at the 28.2° East position in the Clarke Belt that are owned and operated by SES based in Betzdorf, Luxembourg...

 has the ability to receive Sky's service.

Virgin TV ranks as the UK's largest provider of on-demand content, with over 3 million Video on Demand
Video on demand
Video on Demand or Audio and Video On Demand are systems which allow users to select and watch/listen to video or audio content on demand...

 (VoD) customers and over 6,500 hours of programming.

Channels



Virgin TV carries around 300 digital television and radio channels, including a mixture of subscription, premium subscription and pay-per-view channels.

Relationship with Virgin Group


Virgin Media have entered into a 30-year licensing agreement with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Enterprises Limited
Virgin Group
Virgin Group Limited is a British branded venture capital conglomerate organisation founded by business tycoon Richard Branson. The core business areas are travel, entertainment and lifestyle. Virgin Group's date of incorporation is listed as 1989 by Companies House, who class it as a holding...

 to licence out all the relevant Virgin sub-brands for a term of 30 years, with a ten year opt-out clause, Branson accepted a mix of shares and cash, making him a 10.7% shareholder of the combined company at the time.

In July 2007, Virgin Group hedged 37pc of his stake in Virgin Media for $224m through a collared loan agreement with Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse
The Credit Suisse Group AG is a Swiss multinational financial services company headquartered in Zurich, with more than 250 branches in Switzerland and operations in more than 50 countries.-History:...

, a transaction which enabled it to retain the voting and dividend rights. Virgin Group had the option of buying back the 12.8m Virgin Media shares he had mortgaged after two years, but in May 2009 decided against this. The funds were used at the time by Virgin Group to invest in other areas of its business, such as Virgin Green Fund
Virgin Green Fund
Virgin Green Fund has been established to invest in companies in the renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors in the US and Europe.- Investment opportunities :...

, which was launched in September 2007, Virgin America
Virgin America
Virgin America, Inc. is a United States-based low-cost airline that began service on August 8, 2007. The airline's stated aim is to provide low-fare, high-quality service for "long-haul point-to-point service between major metropolitan cities on the Eastern and West Coast seaboards." San Francisco...

 and Virgin Mobile India
Virgin Mobile India
Virgin Mobile India Limited is a cellular telephone service provider company which is a joint venture between Tata Teleservices and Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Currently, the company uses Tata's CDMA network to offer its services under the brand name Virgin Mobile, and it has also started GSM...

.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Entertainment Investment Holdings Limited owns a minority holding of 21,413,099 Virgin Media common stock , making them the third largest shareholder.

On 11 November 2008 Virgin Media revealed plans to cut 2,200 jobs by 2012 - about 15% of its workforce - as part of a group-wide overhaul.

Advertising


Virgin Media launched in February 2007, with a public relations event and expensive advertising campaign covering major UK television channels, newspapers and billboards. Recent television advertising has featured actress Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman
Uma Karuna Thurman is an American actress and model. She has performed in leading roles in a variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to science fiction and action movies. Among her best-known roles are those in the Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill...

, comedienne Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax is a BAFTA nominated American comedian who made a career in the United Kingdom as part of the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s.-Early life:...

, actor Samuel L Jackson and currently features actor Marc Warren
Marc Warren
Marc Warren is an English actor, known for his British television roles as Danny Blue in Hustle, Dougie Raymond in The Vice and Dominic Foy in State of Play.-Career:...

. Virgin Media also sponsored the Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 reality TV show Big Brother
Big Brother (UK)
Big Brother UK is the British version of the Dutch Big Brother television format, which takes its name from the character in George Orwell's 1948 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four...

until the end of the ninth series.

Broadband


, Virgin Broadband has a 22.3% share of the broadband market, behind BT Total Broadband
BT Total Broadband
BT Total Broadband is a broadband internet product offered by BT Retail, which is part of BT Group plc. It was formerly known as BT Yahoo! Broadband, BT Openworld and simply BT Broadband. BT is the largest ISP in the UK with currently 4,600,000 broadband users.- BT Home Hub :The BT Home Hub is a...

 (on 27.3%) and just ahead of TalkTalk
TalkTalk
TalkTalk is a pay television, telecommunications and internet service provider company headquartered in London, United Kingdom...

 (on 22.2%).

Television


Virgin Television has around 3.4 million subscribers. 3.2 million of them are digital cable customers, and the other 200,000 are analogue cable customers.

Virgin makes up around 30% of the UK's TV distributors, with Freeview having the most, and Sky being second.

Net neutrality


In April 2008 Acting CEO Neil Berkett sparked controversy when he told Television, a magazine published by the Royal Television Society
Royal Television Society
The Royal Television Society is a British-based educational charity for the discussion, and analysis of television in all its forms, past, present and future. It is the oldest television society in the world...

, “this net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks.” According to the journalist, he claimed that any video content provider that refused to pay Virgin Media a premium for faster access would have to get stuck in “bus lanes,” having their content delivered to end users at much slower speeds than that of paying content providers.

There has been widespread criticism of this policy expressed on the internet, large internet communities are requesting that Virgin customers end their subscription and initiate a mass boycott.

According to Virgin Media, the comments in the article were taken out of context and misinterpreted. A statement released by the company states: "With Virgin Media rolling out a 50Mb service later this year, we are uniquely equipped to cope with the demand for new bandwidth-hungry services. We strongly support the principle that the internet should remain a space that is open to all and we have not called for content providers to pay for distribution. However, we recognise that as more customers turn to the web for content, different providers will have different needs and priorities and in the long term, it's legitimate to question how this demand will be managed. We welcome an informed debate on this issue."

Data pimping


In early 2008 it was announced that the ISP arm of Virgin Media had entered into a contract (along with BT and TalkTalk) with the former spyware
Spyware
Spyware is a type of malware that can be installed on computers, and which collects small pieces of information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user, and can be difficult to detect. Typically, spyware is secretly installed on the user's...

 company Phorm
Phorm
Phorm, formerly known as 121Media, is a Delaware, United States-based digital technology company known for its advertising software. Founded in 2002, the company originally distributed programs that were considered spyware, from which they made millions of dollars in revenue...

 (responsible under their 121Media guise for the Apropos rootkit
Rootkit
A rootkit is software that enables continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence from administrators by subverting standard operating system functionality or other applications...

) to intercept and analyse their users' click-stream data, and sell the anonymised aggregate information as part of Phorm's OIX advertising service. The practice, which has become known as "data pimping", came under intense fire from various internet communities and other interested parties who believe that the interception of data is illegal under UK law (RIPA). At a more fundamental level, many have argued that the ISPs and Phorm have no right to sell a commodity (a user's data) to which they have no claim of ownership.

Though Phorm initially claimed Virgin Media had signed an exclusive contract and were committed to implementing Phorm's Webwise tracking system, Virgin Media have since distanced themselves from this and now state that they have only signed a preliminary contract with Phorm to better understand the tracking technology, and are under no obligation to implement it. Reports on the Guardian website in May 2008 suggested Virgin Media may be further distancing themselves from the controversial system.

Wikipedia censorship


In December 2008, Virgin Media was one of several ISPs in the UK to attempt to censor its users' access to the Wikipedia article about the 1976 album Virgin Killer
Virgin Killer
Virgin Killer is the fourth studio album by the German heavy metal band Scorpions. It was released in 1976 and was the first album of the band to attract attention outside Europe. The title is described as being a reference to time as the killer of innocence. The original cover featured a nude...

by stadium rock band Scorpions
Scorpions (band)
Scorpions are a heavy metal/hard rock band from Hannover, Germany, formed in 1965 by guitarist Rudolf Schenker, who is the band's only constant member. They are known for their 1980s rock anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and many singles, such as "No One Like You", "Send Me an Angel", "Still...

.

External links