Cable Tech

Eurobites: Virgin Media Gets Picky, Loses 53,000 RGUs in Q3

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: BritBox launches in the UK; Intracom lands last-mile connectivity deal in South Africa; ARM still plans growth, despite quarterly loss.

  • A "disciplined approach to customer acquisitions and retentions and a shift in focus to higher-value TV bundles" was the explanation given by UK cable operator Virgin Media for a 53,000 decline in revenue-generating units (RGUs) in the third quarter. Video RGUs accounted for the vast majority of this figure, with 50,000 pressing the off button. Third-quarter revenue was broadly flat year-on-year, at £1.28 billion (US$1.64 billion). On the mobile side, Virgin pointed to record postpaid net additions of its FMC (fixed-mobile converged) bundles in Q3, with 85,000 taking the plunge. Virgin forms part of the Liberty Global group -- look out for more coverage of the group's results on Light Reading later today.

  • BritBox, the attempt by UK free-to-air broadcasters to grab a slice of the OTT video streaming action, has launched in the UK. The service, which features archived "boxed sets" of established hits such as Downton Abbey alongside new shows, will cost £5.99 ($7.70) a month. A version of BritBox with a different catalogue has been running in the US for a couple of years, attracting 650,000 subscribers. Can this UK incarnation compete with established players like Netflix and Amazon Prime? Will the lure of ancient episodes of Doctor Who prove impossible to resist? Some UK telly-gogglers have already expressed their outrage on Twitter that they are being expected to pay to watch programs that they have, as they see it, already paid for via their BBC license fees…

  • Greek systems vendor Intracom Telecom is to supply its WiBAS Point-to-MultiPoint (PtMP) technology to Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), a South African provider of open access infrastructure. DFA hopes the deal will allow it to offer high-quality microwave-based last-mile access connectivity to wholesale customers, serving those end users wanting immediate access while waiting for a fiber service to be installed or, in appropriate cases, as a permanent solution.

  • UK chip designer ARM is sticking to its plan to double staff numbers in the UK despite recording a loss in its most recent quarterly results. As the Daily Telegraph reports (paywall applies), ARM recorded an $11 million operating loss in the third quarter of the year, as revenues declined, but CEO Simon Segars maintained the headcount expansion plan will go ahead.

  • Finnish airline Finnair has sacked an unspecified number of employees who had been found using passengers' WiFi log-in credentials to access the Internet during flights, resulting in those passengers being unable to get online themselves. As YLE reports, Finnair suspects that up to 100 employees have been caught red-handed.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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