The business arm of UK carrier NTL:Telewest Inc, which has recently renamed itself Virgin Media, will launch fixed-mobile convergence services in the second half of this year based on collaboration with the group’s Virgin Mobile division.
Andrew McGrath, director of marketing and strategy at NTL:Telewest Business, said the Hook-based carrier is working with Virgin Mobile on propositions, with an announcement before the end of 2007. He added that an offering for the enterprise market is planned further out, after this year.
McGrath’s comments suggest NTL:Telewest Business is looking at an edge implementation such as UMA or picocell base stations for the SMB space, whereas for the enterprise market it will adopt an IMS-centric approach.
The revelation came as Virgin Media celebrates the first year after the merger of the UK’s two biggest cable operators, NTL and Telewest, with a coverage area enabling it to target 85% of the country’s businesses with direct services from its network, up from 45% for NTL and 40% for Telewest in isolation.
That means only 15% of businesses would now require a tail circuit from another carrier to be linked to the network, which represents the ability to craft more competitive offerings, McGrath argued.
In terms of Ethernet services, NTL:Telewest’s 300 nodes around the country make it significantly larger in absolute terms than the national incumbent, BT Group, in this market segment, said the exec. The rollout of such an extensive network was driven by the need to support consumer services such as HDTV and video-on-demand (VoD), the benefit to the business services arm being a collateral one, of course.
We’ve also nearly doubled our capacity in IP VPN services, from 80 edge routers operated by Telewest when the merger took place to 136 now, McGrath went on. Again the rationale expanding its edge routing capability was twofold, he added, since the same devices are also used in its VoD service for the consumer market.
The boxes used as Cisco 7609 routers, and again, the increase in their number means we get closer to the end customer, which means shorter tails and so lower cost, he explained. In addition, the least resilient part is always the last drop, so we’ve increased our reliability too.
In addition to the increase in its access and aggregation infrastructure, NTL:Telewest has also been beefing up its application offering, with its IMS architecture enabling both VoIP services and desktop-to-desktop videoconferencing.
We currently have 1,000 live seats, with plans to expand that to 10,000 over the next few years, he said. CCTV backhauling is offered over Ethernet meanwhile, with a single SLA.
While Virgin Media as a whole racks up revenue of around 3.9bn pounds ($7.5bn) annually, the business services arm brings in 657m pounds ($1.27bn), ranking number three in its segment behind BT Global Services and Cable & Wireless.
However, C&W relies more heavily on third-party access, so we’re number on in profitability among alternative network service providers, McGrath went on.