With the construction of its DOCSIS 3.0 network now complete, Virgin Media believes it has the U.K.'s winning broadband strategy. Virgin says that it will now be able to extend its much talked about 50 Mbps service to more than 12 million homes in the U.K. In tandem with completing the network, Virgin will allow new and existing customers to purchase the 50 Mbps service for about $46 if bundled with a phone line, or $62 if purchased as a stand-alone service. In addition Virgin will offer its "Freedom" netbook laptop that's equipped with new software and capabilities that can help consumers take advantage of the 50 Mbps service.
Similar to the way Virgin won over mobile subscribers for its wireless service, analysts believe that bundling the "Freedom" netbook laptop with the 50 Mbps service could resonate with a sizeable audience. However, Virgin's 50 Mbps service is far from perfect. Not only has the service provider struggled to gain a critical mass of subscribers, but upload speeds reportedly have been poor. What's more, Virgin will be getting company from BT. Although the incumbent carrier is a bit late to the ultra high-speed broadband game, BT recently laid out the details of an aggressive Fiber-to-the-X rollout-one that will offer similar network speeds and pricing.
"Its [Virgin Media's] 50Mbit/s product has given it an advantage in the broadband market - one that it should benefit from with its aggressive pricing," said Richard Thurston, analyst at Analysys Mason. "However, BT is racing to roll out fibre-based broadband services that will offer comparable access speeds. The incumbent is late to the market with these services, but when they arrive, they will give Virgin a run for its money."
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