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Cable Ops Up Euro Broadband Ante

Ray Le Maistre

9:40 AM -- With all the talk in Europe this week of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) developments, it's the region's cable operators that are stealing the (fixed) broadband headlines. (See FTTH Europe: Reality Sinks In and ZTE Bears Finland.)

Portugal's ZON Multimédia showed off its 1-Gbit/s service at this week's FTTH Conference 2010 in Lisbon, and now the UK's Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has announced it's set to increase its top-range commercial service from 50 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s before the end of this year and expand its 200-Mbit/s service trial -- all of which, no doubt, is designed to pour water on BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s fiber-to-the-anything efforts. (See Virgin Preps 100-Mbit/s Broadband Launch, BT Expands FTTH Plans, Virgin Takes Fight to Its DSL Rivals, and BT's Fiber to the Hype.)

Where Virgin could do better, though, is with its financials. Although the company managed to cut its full-year losses in 2009 -- to £358 million (US$547 million) from £920 million ($1.4 billion) in 2008 -- it's still leaking money, even while adding customers. The 2009 loss, though, was largely due to interest payments on its debts: Virgin Media actually recorded an operating profit of £142 million ($217 million) last year.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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