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February 11, 2010

Virgin rebrands ntl:Telewest Business arm

Virgin Media Business boss backs Tory licence fee slice

By Steve Evans

Ntl:Telewest has been rebranded as Virgin Media Business as the firm looks to build on the reputation of the consumer brand to appeal to a wider range of businesses. The company also publicly backed the Conservative party’s proposal to take a slice of the BBC licence fee to pay for broadband development.

At an event in London to launch the rebranded company Virgin CEO Neil Berkett, alongside founder Sir Richard Branson and Mark Heraghty, MD of Virgin Media Business, said he welcomed the Tory plan.

“Clearly the current government has a view in terms of increasing consumer speeds outside of our natural footprint and being funded by a 50p tax and I guess a tax is never attractive, but we understand that it needs government funding. The opposition, should they get into government, believe that they should take a slice of the TV licence fee. I think that’s a good idea frankly,” he said.

The newly-branded Virgin Media Business will expand its focus from the midmarket space, where it is currently quite strong, to the SMB and government and local authority sector. It is hoping to use the reputation of the consumer arm to build up its business customer portfolio.

“It means we get a huge benefit from being part of a much larger company,” Heraghty said. “We get a free ride on the network investments that have been made to support the consumer company. We can leverage those same investments to deliver services to our business customers.”

“One of the problems with the ntl:Telewest brand is that it was the industry’s best kept secret,” he continued. “It was number three in the market and was delivering the sort of SLAs that businesses expect. By aligning ourselves with Virgin, we have higher expectations and expect to be held to a higher standard.”

The rebranding means that the ntl:Telewest Business name will be firmly abandoned. “Is the ntl:Telewest brand now dead? Absolutely, yes,” Berkett said. “Ntl will be firmly at the bottom of the basket, Telewest not quite so far down,” added Branson.

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