Who will get the broadband they deserve?

Where next for Virgin Media?

Analysis of Virgin Media's project lightning at the end of 2015

As their Project Lightning project gets going we’ve combined some of our datasets to have a closer look at what Virgin Media is doing at the end of 2015.

We’ve mapped what we think are their existing postcodes, deployment activity and combined that with several inputs from our UK mapping series.  We have selected two leading targets for the next steps.

Gotham already has cable coverage, for some of its premises.  The small town south of Nottingham comes top of our list for the infill to be completed.

infill target for vm

In terms of ‘virgin’ towns to target our favourite is west of Didcot, East Hendred.

vm target2

It ticks a lot of the high speed adoption boxes and is strikingly similar to other recent areas to see activity from Virgin.

We’ve been tracking the deployment activity from Virgin Media (along with CityFibre, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic et al.) and below shows a sample with the current cable postcodes (in purple) with new activity in red and green.


Scoring a postcode for Virgin Media deployment – how attractive is it?

We’ve used a combination of inputs for our view this time round.  Each factor is scored from 1 to 5 where 5 represents the most attractive or likely state for cable deployment and 1 the least.

DDI quintile + metro weighting + competition + distance from current deployment

DDI Quintile – see the papers on the Digital Deprivation Index.  How prone to non-adoption is an area

Metro weighting – density of coverage. Weighting for same metro area is scaled from 1 to 5 depending on the density of the current coverage.  We indexed the percentage coverage by metro area with 1 as the least dense and 5 as the most, the logic being it’s easy to close a small gap.

The argument can be made that those postcodes are uncovered for a reason.  The weight of previous statements from Virgin Media makes us select the ‘easy win’ option as attractive this time.

Competition ranges from one (in addition to BT) scores 5. Through to all competitors being present (inc. LLU, altnets etc.) scoring 1.

In 402k premises Virgin Media would face only BT, 360k premises are in areas where Virgin would face only two competitors (inc. BT) where they aren’t currently deployed but could.

Distance from current deployment is scored 5 within 100m, 3 within 500m and 1 within the same metro area.


Point Topic uses models of the broadband and related demographic constraints by postcode to establish how many residential and business properties are using what services where.  We also pick out the barriers to adoption, the highs and lows of bandwidths and generate research and models on adoption and marketing through to policy tools and supporting econometric modelling for local, national and European applications.

Using the appropriate datasets with an understanding of their geographic, temporal and methodological relationships is core to our record of success in the UK and Europe.

For Virgin Media it’s not just about the South East of England.  Outside London it’s the North West and the West Midlands that have the most attractive profile for Virgin Media to spend their capital.  In absolute numbers of non-cabled, high scoring targets though, the South East seems to hit the sweet spot.

Scoring the Virgin Media target postcodes – in their franchise area but without current coverage

Government Office Region Average of Attractiveness Households – potential targets by region Households – potential targets by region (%)
London 9.90 1,190,245 4.7%
North West 5.70 1,432,424 5.6%
South East 5.03 1,965,503 7.7%
West Midlands 4.97 1,000,451 3.9%
Yorkshire and The Humber 4.96 1,318,567 5.2%
North East 4.43 590,872 2.3%
East Midlands 3.81 954,569 3.8%
East of England 3.79 1,309,145 5.2%
Scotland 3.22 1,527,187 6.0%
South West 2.14 1,497,385 5.9%

NB Northern Ireland and Wales not included in this analysis.

vm top areas

There is a major element missing from this analysis and the results.  The actual number of subscribers that are on which technology from who and what the overall demand profile (how many can you sell) ends up being for a postcode.

We have some more inputs, expected soon, that will allow us to update our modelling (currently on version 3 of our UK linear models) and allow us to examine, in detail, if Virgin Media can achieve their goal of 40% market share in their footprint.  Watch this space

See more Free Analysis on Project Lightning.  Subscribers can access full reports, data outputs in UK Geographic Data.

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