Lightning speed – how fast is that again? Virgin plugs in another 102k to superfast broadband

But revenues for Q1 2019 flat as a pancake

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Virgin Media has so far managed just 1.7 million Lightning connections, nearly halfway to its original stated aim of connecting 4 million premises by the end of 2019 to speeds of 300Mbps.

The British ISP continued to expand its superfast broadband network, Project Lightning, at a relatively slow pace – adding 102,000 "marketable premises" in the quarter to a total of 1.7 million. This compares to 111,000 in the second quarter of 2018, where we had already noted it needed to pick up the pace.

A spokesperson told The Register: "While there is a lot of talk on network build, Virgin Media is delivering. Since launch, Project Lightning has seen more new network built than any of our main competitors and is continuing to deliver excellent returns on investment.

"[W]e fully expect to continue building between 400,000 to 500,000 premises a year for the foreseeable future."

The firm brought in revenues of £1.275bn in the first quarter of 2019 (PDF), down 0.1 per cent on the year, with falling mobile earnings eating up gains made in its B2B and broadband businesses.

Operating income was down to £3m from £59.3m a year prior, a dip blamed on restructuring and other charges, write-offs of network assets and "higher share-based compensation expense".

B2B revenues grew 1.1 per cent year-on-year, driven by small office, home office (SOHO), but this was offset by price erosion on voice revenues. SOHO added 15 per cent more subscribers compared to a year ago.

Virgin, or rather its owner Liberty Global, counts Revenue Generating Units – not individual punters but the contracts they sign. So someone with Virgin broadband at home and a Virgin mobile counts as two RGUs.

It claimed 59,000 additional RGUs, up 32 per cent on last year, made up of 46,000 telephony contracts and 37,000 broadband subscriptions. Twelve-month rolling churn was 15 per cent.

ARPU was £51.36 a month for cable customers, down from £51.58 in the same period last year. ARPU for mobile subscribers, including interconnect, was £11.08 compared to £10.83 last year. ®


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