Virgin Media broadband customers can look forward to more and more services in months to come, as the UK’s second-largest broadband provider looks to add value to its product range.
In an exclusive interview, a spokesperson for the company revealed that the recent addition of Googlemail and a photo storage and printing service are part of what is to be an ongoing strategy of making its non-cable and fibre optic home broadband products more attractive than those of rival “bare-bones ISPs”.
He said: “We don’t have specifics that we can release right now about the things that we’re looking at. However, you can expect to see more additions in the same vein as those we’ve already launched.
“We’ll be developing services around the periphery of the broadband service to give customers a lot more than they might otherwise expect from their broadband provider.”
As of last month, Virgin Media agreed a deal with Snapfish to give customers who take the provider’s M or L broadband deals 25 free photographs per month, while those on the XXL contract can print 100 images per month. This was preceded by the adoption of Googlemail as the company’s email platform, which offers improved online storage of up to 7GB.
The extent to which the existing new services from Virgin Media, which added some 7,100 new customers during the first quarter, have improved take-up is too early to judge. However, in months to come they are likely to go at least some way in heading off what is likely to be renewed challenge from Carphone Warehouse/TalkTalk. Carphone is set to supplant Virgin Media as the UK’s second-largest residential broadband supplier in terms of customer numbers with the forthcoming acquisition of the beleaguered UK division of Tiscali.
News of developments at Virgin Media comes after the internet service provider was recently at the centre of reports that it was considering discontinuing its relationship with controversial behavioural monitoring software company Phorm. Opponents of Phorm claim that it is unduly intrusive and invades consumers' privacy.
However, Virgin Media’s spokesperson countered the ongoing criticism with the claim that the two companies’ relationship has gone no further than an "exploratory phase". Furthermore, he added, Virgin Media has “yet to even commit to trialling Phorm” and would only be likely to employ the software if it would be to the benefit of customers.
He said: “Online behavioural tech could be useful in lots of ways. It’s not just about targeting people with advertisments, it's also about more delivering more appropriate services to you.”
Further developments planned by Virgin Media this year include the continued roll out of its super-fast 50Mb service, which is “on track to be completed by the end of the summer”.