Richard Branson’s Four-Play Move


Given all the recent activity in the US around the concept of four-play (a combination of voice, video, data and wireless) services, it was only a matter of time before other countries jumped into the fray. The Telegraph reports that Richard Branson will merge his Virgin Mobile MVNO with NTL, a major cable service provider in the UK. Branson, who owns 72% of Virgin Mobile will hold 14% of the combined company. The new company will be called what else, Virgin. (Virgin and four play in one sentence… priceless, for everything else…. there is Master Card!)

The new Virgin will have 2.5 million broadband customers, 4.3 million fixed line phone customers, and will have revenues of close to $7 billion. The deal is predicated on NTL closing $5 billion merger with Telewest. It is ironic that the talks were held between Simon Duffy, CEO of NTL and Branson, who is not part of Virgin’s management. Even T-Mobile, the carrier that carries Virgin’s mobile traffic was told after a handshake deal was reached. This is not good news for Murdoch family, which has been trying to build its own four-play offering. Murdoch’s Sky recently snapped up EasyNet for $373 million.

One banker said yesterday: “James Murdoch is going to choke on his muesli when he hears about this one. It’s going to be the battle of the brands – Virgin versus Sky.”

Full story @ The Telegraph.



as a former telewest installer giving 8 years to them virgin take over and cut costs inhouse install being part of that cost cutting now all installs are being done by contractors which we all are now and as Mr Branson is all about caring for his staff all this has cost me a 6K a year drop and killed a job i did love so thanks agian for taking the last 8 years of my life and chucking them in the bin


The NTL Service in Milton Keynes is old archaic and abismal. Since taking it over from BT, NTL have done nothing to bring it forward. The lack of NTLs after sales service to its customers means that they are leaving to BSkyB Satellite in droves. This is reflected in Milton Keynes no longer enforcing the local bylaw of not allowing external dishes or aerials.

The reception is only maintained by a part-time service of technical staff who only work daytime hours up to 3 o’clock and never do any outside hours work or maintenance. The reception quality is, in the case of many areas, of poorer quality than analogue aerial reception.

If NTL had had the foresight to maintian the cable and to invest in upgrading it to fibre optic they would now have a solid customer base in Milton Keynes. But, they could probably switch it off long before 2012 because they wont have any customers watching it.

Gil Burrows

Sir Richard,
As you are a majority shareholder of NTL you know it supplies an analogue signal to the TV Cable system in Milton Keynes. This signal is due to be turned off in by 2012. Could you let me know if and when you will upgrade the Milton Keynes TV cable system to Digital? If the answer is nothing, as aerials are mostly ineffective, we will all require satellite dishes. Is this the next Virgin Enterprise?


oops (continued from before)

One of the reasons a mobile company does better with a partnership with a landline company is that the landline partner can carry and terminate a lot of the calls with better clarity and towerhopping latency reduction – now that’s quality.

Nationwide coverage becomes simpler if you have a strong landline partner for ex. – vz+ vz wireless.

The other benefit for the consumer – One bill for their services, dsl+wireless+landline is already in play pretty heavily by SBC + VZ.

Fourplay – I predict Verizon FiOS is about to hit it (bb+wireless+video+voip) — Enhanced Fourplay…


Om Malik

hey i am proud of my perceived lewdness. anyway it was way back when i started using it, so it have become part of the lexicon. which is pretty cool.


Om – found it funny that you used “four-play” as an official term instead of quad-play or “grand slam” – the last usage I heard was from the VP of Marketing at Verizon who was kidding about seeing quad-play being addressed as four-play (foreplay)! Guess its de-facto now…


This would be an awesome deal they could offer fixed/mobile services as well which would be cool. I wonder how they would offer 3G services though?

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