Virgin Media to expand broadband service

Virgin Media has unveiled plans to invest £3 billion on improving its fibre optic broadband network.

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By :  ,  Financial Analyst

Broadband is set to be the focus of Virgin Media's latest investment programme.

The company announced that it is planning to spend a huge £3 billion on improving its fibre optic broadband network, expanding the service to reach 17 million homes. As part of the expansion, Virgin will be creating 6,000 new jobs, 1,000 of which be apprenticeships in what it describes as the largest investment in broadband infrastructure in the UK for over a decade.

Virgin believes that the investment will provide £8 billion of value to the country's economy and its consumers. With the support of its parent company Liberty Global, Virgin wants to add around four million properties to its network over the next five years. It will mean expanding its service by almost a third.

The move has been backed by prime minister David Cameron who described Virgin's plans as a "vote of confidence in our [the government's] long-term economic plan to support business and create jobs". The prime minister added that it complements the government's goal of rolling out superfast broadband across the UK.

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media chief executive officer, said: “Millions of homes and businesses will soon be able to benefit for the first time from broadband speeds at least twice as fast as those available from the other major providers."

Strong competition on TV

Virgin was among a number of opposing voices against the Premier League's auction of its TV rights. The deal, valued at over £5 billion, was a new record to screen top flight football. It saw broadcasters Sky and BT pay £4.1 billion and £960 million respectively.

Mr Mockridge described the auction process as giving the Premier League as a licence to "print money" and was concerned that the increase in money would ultimately "hurt fans". Virgin had previously complained to Ofcom about the lack of competition when it comes to bidding for Premier League football broadcasting rights.

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