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Video services

NTL Rolls Out 4-Service Package

U.K. cable giant ntl group ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI) unveiled its response to Britain's current rash of competitive broadband offers with a "ground-breaking offensive" that includes an entry package of free TV for new fixed-line customers and a package of all four major services -- broadband, video, voice, and wireless -- that allows customers to mix and match the services they want.

The operator is making use of its new asset, Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. , to offer fixed-line telephony, mobile telephony, TV/video on demand, and broadband (up to 2 Mbit/s) for £40 (US$74) per month. (See NTL Takes Virgin.)

And soon after that package becomes available (some time before September 1), customers will be able to pick and mix those four services in any combination they want, with any two of the services for £20 ($37) per month or any three for £30 ($55.50).

The move comes as U.K. consumers face an enviable lineup of telecom, Internet access, and entertainment packages, dominated by the offer of so-called "free" broadband services as part of a wider package. The most recent offer was launched last week by NTL's main TV service rival, Sky . (See Sky's Free Broadband Play, Orange Juices Free Broadband Battle, and Free Broadband Comes to the UK.)

NTL even mentions Sky in its news release, noting that it already has a video-on-demand service up and running, while Sky is still preparing its VOD offer. NTL's "free TV" offer is aimed at bumping up subscriber numbers at the low end of the market. New customers that want a basic fixed-line phone package, costing £11 ($20.36) per month, will get a base-line TV package thrown in free. Notably, the deal does not include any installation or connection charges. It will be available on September 1 or before, says NTL.

Daiwa Securities SMBC Europe Ltd. analyst James Enck reckons this is "a nice defensive kick in the groin for Sky's DSL offering," which offers free broadband, after an activation charge of £40 ($74), of up to 2 Mbit/s for customers that subscribe to Sky's TV service, which starts at £15 ($27.75) per month for the most basic set of channels.

The offer, which is available to existing as well as new customers, will likely be a significant anti-churn tool as well as an attraction for new customers, but NTL will need to prove itself as an organization that can deliver decent post-sale customer service if it is to make the offer count. The company is known for its poor customer relations and contract and billing errors.

NTL is already the U.K.'s second biggest broadband provider after BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA). At the end of March this year it had nearly 5 million customers using a variety of services: More than 2.8 million were using the operator's broadband service, 4.3 million were fixed-line telephony users, and 3.3 million subscribed to the TV service.

The closure of the Virgin Mobile acquisition earlier this month added more than 5 million mobile subscribers to the company. (See NTL Completes Virgin Buy.)

While that acquisition brought with it the highly successful Virgin brand, which NTL plans to use across all its services, a spokeswoman says plans for a single brand won't be introduced until at least early 2007.

NTL merged with its major cable rival late last year and has been cutting costs to make itself more competitive and profitable. It also has been busy revamping its network infrastructure and migrating to a less complex architecture in recent years. (See NTL Confirms Job Cuts, NTL & Telewest: Together at Last!, and NTL's NGN Hell.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:47:29 AM
re: NTL Rolls Out 4-Service Package And to top it off, they get warm beer too! Could it be that competition thing is working to the benefit of consumers?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:47:29 AM
re: NTL Rolls Out 4-Service Package I am getting jealous of those Brits. Look at what they get, while until recently I paid (past tense) ATT $115/mo for two basic POTs lines with a low-end messaging bundle.
digits 12/5/2012 | 3:47:28 AM
re: NTL Rolls Out 4-Service Package Don't get toooo jealous (especially of the warm beer).

I mentioned the customer service for a reason. I have been an NTL customer for 5 years now, and the services are just fine. I haven't had a technical problem with my broadband for more than a year, and only 2 or 3 (quite short) outages in four years.

But, oh boy, its back office is one crazy mess. There's every chance that if you call NTL to request a service upgrade, new package etc you're as likely to be cut off or charged for something you've nvere heard of. That's been my experience. NTL is fine as long as you never have to contact them.
Maybe it's the same with North American firms?

I have a friend who moved to Australia last year - he is still in shock about how rude and uncaring Telstra is -- and he is a guy with lots of disposable income who wanted the full package...
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:47:24 AM
re: NTL Rolls Out 4-Service Package I still believe this type of competition will come to the US, even with the duopoly.

I just got a better offer from FIOS today, much better than a week ago. All this certainly encourages me to hold out.

OP
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