Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why isn't England's cable network open to competition ?

Recently I received my last phone/cable TV/broadband Bill. It was over £80 for one month !

Over the last year, since I last phoned NTL Virgin to try to prune some of the cost the Bill has risen from about £50/month. I'm just back of the phone after talking to some phone operator in India about reducing the set of services I receive again. I think I've reduced by Bill to about £35/month, but we'll see.

Why stick with Virgin Media ? Well their cable modem service has been good over the last few years, and we can't get reliable TV reception. But it occurs to me that I should have more of a choice. Surely Virgin should be forced to open its network to competitors, just as BT has been forced to do ?

I know Richard Branson has good relations with the Labour government, but isn't it time the free market arrived for cable customers also ? ( OK I understand the original argument about needing to get a return on laying the cable network, but the time period for this is long past ).

I wonder what ofcom are doing about this ?


anthonynorth said...

Is there such a thing as 'competition' in England's service industry?
I think it's all a con, myself.

Vindico said...

Well, I do sympathise. Knowing a little about this industry I can assure you that Virgin Media (a car crash from the start) will not be forced to open up the network to competitors. There is already competition in these cable areas for phone/broadband/tv. Phone services are available from many operators but with a BT line, broadband is available from many operators but over a BT line, and TV is available on Sky/Freesat/Freeview. So I'm afraid there is competition, just not on the Virgin network, and so Ofcom will stay quiet.

Also take comfort in the fact that the service you are receiving is being/has been subsidised by billions over the years to the consumer as it racked up debts. That, ironically, is excellent value for money.

Meanwhile if you want to shave a few £ off your bill I suggest calling them and saying you want to leave. They might offer you a sweetner to stay!