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Sunday 19 November 2017

Chief executive eyes expansion of network to 150,000 homes and businesses

Virgin Media is battling with new fibre-broadband competition from Eir, Vodafone and the ESB
Virgin Media is battling with new fibre-broadband competition from Eir, Vodafone and the ESB

Adrian Weckler Technology Correspondent

Virgin Media, formerly known as UPC, is eyeing an expansion of its network by up to 150,000 new homes and businesses around the country, according to the company's chief executive, Magnus Ternsjo.

The move would be the company's first network expansion in almost a decade as it battles new fibre-broadband competition from Eir, Vodafone and the ESB.

"We are looking at opportunities to expand and grow our network both for consumer homes and businesses," said Mr Ternsjo.

"It's high competition out there. The incumbent is investing in building out their network, as are the ESB and Vodafone. But we have always been the leaders in the market and I'm excited for the future."

Virgin's television and broadband network currently covers just a third of the 2.3 million homes and businesses around the country.

Eir's rebranding campaign from its previous Eircom cost €16m spread across 100 different marketing agencies, according to the company.

Mr Ternsjo also unveiled the company's new mobile phone service. The service, which uses 3 Ireland's network, will be initially offered only to existing Virgin customers. A €25-per-month plan will offer 30GB of mobile data and unlimited calls and texts.

A €15-per-month plan will offer 1GB of data and 250 voice minutes and texts.

The service will be available to non-Virgin customers for a higher price. It will be a SIM- only, bill-pay service at first, with handsets available in 2016. 4G will not be available on the service until 2016, said Mr Ternsjo.

However, Virgin broadband customers may soon be seeing faster top speeds.

Mr Ternsjo said that the company would consider increasing download speeds closer to 1GB as rivals start offering gigabit services into the Irish market.

Mr Ternsjo declined to say whether Virgin Media would apply to tender for the Government's state-subsidised National Broadband Plan. He said that the company was "considering" the issue at present.

Virgin's Irish business is undergoing increased competitive pressure as the broadband and TV market hots up here.

While its broadband customer base grew 5pc to 366,000 in the last year, growth is flattening as high-speed competition from rivals intensifies. Meanwhile, its television customer base fell by 9pc in the last year to 387,000, with Sky, Eir and Netflix all fighting for users.

Irish Independent

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