back to article What a Liberty: Virgin Media in buyout talks with telecoms giant

Virgin Media confirmed this morning that it is in buyout talks with cable giant Liberty Global. In a brief statement to the City ahead of it full-year results tomorrow, Virgin Media announced: Virgin Media confirms that it is in discussions with Liberty Global, Inc., a leading international cable company, concerning a possible …

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Anonymous Coward

Bad news

SInce the company starts getting overvalued (market price jumps after announcements) by the suitor, they end up paying a bigger price than originally intended, and end up charging the consumers to recoup this costs and justify it to their shareholders.

Mega takeovers and mergers are never in the customers and consumers inetrests.

It only fatten the moneymen (ie buyers, shareholders and bankers). Their only interest is how to milk the max out of any venture.

And end up with poorer service standards.

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Pint

Re: Bad news

However, if you happen to be a shareholder then you'd be delighted...

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Yeah, terrible service ...

http://speedtest.net/result/2485537737.png

The only thing wrong with what we get from VM is when staff get involved.

Invariably, once 'customer services' get involved they screw something up. Every time.

Like they are wired up out of phase.

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Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

Now do one at 8pm.

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Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

"Now do one at 8pm"

Will do. Check back here tomorrow. I expect it'll be about the same.

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Stop

Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

Where in Bristol did you get that? In BS6 and BS7 the service is basically unusable at peak times.

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Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

Yeah I remember when I signed up with VM in 2008, my equipment came but they forgot to put the smart card in. I called up their unhelpfuldesk and the smart card not being in the box clearly wasn't in the script so the agent acused me of lying, told me to look properly and said he'd call me back. He never called back so I had to call again the next day.

Once I actually had a replacement card, and they provisioned it (which inexplicably took 5 days) the service was very good. The connection was a solid 10MB/sec and never dipped unless I broke their "traffic management policy". They just need some better trained call centre staff and (dare I say it) to invest in cabling new areas.

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Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

I'm in deepest South Bristol, and also have the Samknows monitoring box, and I can tell you from the Stats page that 7pm to 8pm is, on average, one of the fastest times at around 90 Mbps on a 100Mbps line. Even the consolidated stats over a year show the same pattern of higher speeds during the evening.

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Facepalm

Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

The test server is in Brizzle, not me.

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Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

BS31 is always good, apart from YouTube streaming, but that is a problem all the time.

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Thumb Up

Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

@ Pypes

http://speedtest.net/result/2488340794.png

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Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

Just to add data points,

http://www.speedtest.net/result/2488553934.png

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Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

Oh, I only have 100mb atm. Don't get 120 'til later in the year.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah, terrible service ...

Well after Virgin taking well over a year to fix the Bristol issues (with 6 or so of the 25 still outstanding), one would hope they have finally fixed it. Or maybe it is because tons of customers in the Bristol area switched to other isp's after suffering for so long, that the fewer customers made the congestion go away anyway.

Showing you are ok now do not change the fact that VIrgin broadband in Bristol has been heavily congested and sub standard for so long.

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Joke

Liberty Global ?

Never heard of them. Sounds like the kind of co whose 'Defence Arm' has a tagline of 'Freedom From Above'

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Coat

Re: Liberty Global ?

Of course I've heard of Liberty. I'm looking forward seeing all Virgin broadband routers clad in nice paisley-patterned fabric covers...

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Re: Liberty Global ?

Liberty owns UPC (large Dutch ISP)

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Bronze badge

Re: Liberty Global ?

check their page http://www.lgi.com/our-operations.html

they do South Ireland and half of Europe.. that's why UK have not heard of them...

(note: the 'British Isles' is the whole lot, south Ireland is not in UK, uses euros, not sterling... :) )

Oh and Virgin delivers 110% :)

http://www.speedtest.net/result/2488267082.png

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Anonymous Coward

I'm confused.

I'm unsure of the proper use of the term 'buy out'. Is Virgin buying or selling?

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Re: I'm confused.

Same here - I assumed they were buying when I saw the headline but the numbers involved make it look like they must be the target (as does the bit at the bottom about them seeking takeover partners before).

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Bronze badge

Re: I'm confused.

Ditto. "Virgin Media in being bought-out talks" seems to be the actual story.

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Re: I'm confused.

The fact their share price jumped suggests Liberty want to buy Virgin. The share price of the target is always the one that jumps since only the selling shareholders are likely to immediately profit from a deal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm confused.

Having their butts saved from certain doom is another way of phrasing it.

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Unhappy

Actually takeovers are rarely that good for the company taking over either.

They user bang on about entry to new markets and synergy but somehow the cash disappears into thin air.

HP buys Autonomy

News Corp buys MySpace

And of course the stunning awfulawsomeness that was the $350Bn Time Warner AOL merger

(current values of pair c$50Bn)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/media/11merger.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Now, with this track record if you're a Liberty Global stockholder perhaps you should ask "WTF could possibly go wrong?"

Apart from "everything."

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FAIL

well we can hope

that VM get bought out, and the first thing the new owners do is fire the entire customer 'service' dept for being a bunch of useless ****s

Actually thats not strictly true, once the complaint has been escalated to the scottish call center and you manage to get an engineer sent out(usually the next day) the customer service aint too bad

I blame the guys who write the call center scripts and demand the help desk people follow the scripts to the letter, then tell them to transfer the call if it goes over 45 seconds.

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Re: well we can hope

Not forgetting that it's been a VM policy to not hire anyone on first line support who has English as a first language.

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Re: well we can hope

I just badger them until they put me through to the UK call centre, the standard offshore unit is completely useless, the UK one couldn't be more helpful.

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Unhappy

Re: well we can hope

"Actually thats not strictly true, once the complaint has been escalated to the scottish call center and you manage to get an engineer sent out(usually the next day) the customer service aint too bad"

Be very careful what you wish for.

US companies are very fond of the centralized services idea. I've known one that runs its UK recruitment process from the US through their internal phone network. Staff can only be contact after 1pm in the UK.

VM customers would share customer services with whoever they use at present wherever they get those services from (odds on bet not the US).

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Expansion

Maybe if this happens the cable network might get expanded which I do not think it has been done since the NTL days and maybe put BT under more pressure.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't they already own a chunk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_media#Telewest

I'm thought they already owned part of Virgin Media, as they owned part of Telewest

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LGI had a big rollout of a decent new online service last year in the Netherlands. If they buy VM then hopefully us VM customers will get something that actually rivals Sky's online offering!

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hahahaha

You're joking, right? Sky broadband is a JOKE, as previously covered on El Reg: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/22/sky_broadband_adding_customers_first_capacity_after/

I've been using Comtel/NTL/VM since they fist installed in our city and I've never had a service issue (except when our local cabinet was vandalized).

To try and say that VM doesn't even rival Sky is just plain stupidity!

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Re: hahahaha

Maybe I should have been clearer, Sky's online offering of content blows VM's out of the water.

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Stop

Re: hahahaha

"Sky's online offering of content blows VM's out of the water."

That's because sky own the content and the platform. When virgin dabbled in the content business with their channel 1, sky got scared and bought the channel off them, just so they could shut it down. Now they're using their dominance in one market to get leverage in another. They really should be broken up into content and delivery functions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hahahaha

So you have NEVER had Sky yet you feel qualified to call them a joke. Typical Virgin Fanboi'sm.

Having had Both Sky and Virgin as my ISP I can safely say that Virgin is the joke mickey mouse isp. Issue after issue on Virgin's broadband due to over subscription and congestion. Not to mention streaming buffering issues that have affected the entire country, or their terrible support and customer service.

Sky Fibre on the other hand has had none of the hair pulling moments from any contact with the company. Everything streams just fine. I can actually play online games without lag and latency issues. Streaming video and voice over ip works fine. None of my traffic is throttled as well as not having limits throughout the day like virgin where they limit your connection down to 75% of its speed for hitting a limit on its unlimited service.

Ask anyone who has switched from Virgin broadband to Sky cable and ask them how it compares. Then slap yourself for making the stupid comment above.

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Anonymous Coward

Pointless

All this fast infrastructure hampered by the SuperHub - the worst hub from any provider surely (maybe it's just the WiFi). It's also ironic that the adverts made fun of other providers' customers having to wait for streaming - have you tried any HD YouTube videos at 8pm ? A 60mbit/s connection should be streaming Full HD easily and I doubt it's Google's infrastructure that's being stretched.

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Re: Pointless

Heartily agree here - our "Super" Hub couldn't sustain a connection to a device literally 2" away for more than about 10 seconds (couldn't assign an IP address before the connection dropped). In the end I just canned the wifi and use our old router for that, daisy chained to the "Super" Hub using a powerline network adapter.

It astonishes me how long Virgin have let this situation persist - either it is VM's fault somehow or they wrote the most absurd contract with Netgear that they have been penalised somehow. It's woeful and a seemingly endless source of bad PR.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pointless

Couldn't possibly be because they want you watching via their Tivo STB?

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Holmes

Re: Pointless

I've also been battling the superduds atrocious Wifi (eventually just plugged in an old ADSL modem / router and set up a new network)

There is a very long thread about it on the virgin forums, where a guy of an engineering bent decided to get to the bottom of it. Short version is that it's the mini-pci wifi card, it's a known hardware issue and it cannot be fixed "in the next firmware update." There is however a DIY solution, buy a BCM94321 (probably want to check this) and a pair of internal laptop antennas, swap the parts and the superdud should boot as normal, but with magical "works as advertised" wifi.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Pointless

> A 60mbit/s connection should be streaming Full HD easily and I doubt it's Google's infrastructure that's being stretched.

Don't be too sure about it not being Google's infrastructure. I regularly watch Youtube videos with friends in the US where we both start watching the same video at exactly the same time (start coordinated by Skype). It's quite common for the same video to stall at the same time for people on different continents.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: watching the same video at exactly the same time

that's just quantum entanglement. don't do it too often, one of you will disappear

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Boffin

Busy, busy

I wanted to comment earlier but as the subject is Virgin I had to wait until there were only a couple of people looking at this article.

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superhub?

ours reverted spontaneously to factory settings the other day.

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Trollface

They're following me!

I used to work for an LGI subsidiary in Eastern Europe for about a year and a half, now they're following me to the UK too?

Joking aside, in general LGI seem to be good enough at what they do, and if this were to go ahead I wouldn't expect anything to become worse; okay, maybe the pricing...

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FAIL

Limited Expansion

Their expansion plans are now so limited, they won't even pull a cable 20m through their existing trunking between their street cabinet and my house to connect me to fibre - on that basis, they lost a customer willing to pay for the complete broadband/phone/tv package.

Houses that connected in the Telewest days in my street get fibre, the houses next door, with all the infrastructure in place for the service but old RF cable between cabinet and house, get cr@ppy ADSL instead.

No aspiration, no wonder BT are making fat profits again

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Mushroom

Re: Limited Expansion

No that I'm bitter or anything......

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WTF?

Re: Limited Expansion

Erm, it's fibre to the cabinet, not to the premises. Good old coax from the cabnet to the house (and a separate phone connection).

Rob

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Re: Limited Expansion

It's a weird one, especially as they won't cable up new builds. Some places would be a negligible amount of work to add to their network, but they absolutely refuse. Bu they can go to ridiculous lengths for their existing areas.

One of my friends moved his service to a new house, and after having the local scum cut his cable 3-4 times over a couple of months he got them to come in and dig up the pavement, road, garden, etc. to bury it all.

Personally, I've thought their cable Internet is outstanding when it works, had great experiences. But I despair of ever having another issue that requires dealing with their support.

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Gold badge
FAIL

Re: Limited Expansion

"It's a weird one, especially as they won't cable up new builds. "

As a business decision I find this completely bizarre.

New build is the time to install new services and facilities and (potentially) build market share, provided you can let people retain their old phone numbers (can't all telco's offer this?).

Fibre should remain the state of the art for the foreseeable future. The stuff in the cabinets will change but as long as the fibre can transmit the colours the lasers are using it should last a very long time.

Obviously if the development is a long way from any exchange, or there are doubts about occupancy (which is always a risk) I can see why VM would not do it but otherwise it seems a no brainer to me.

Perhaps now they are making a profit they might re-think this policy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Limited Expansion

The house builders are paid off not to install competing infrastructure. Which is why large housing estates built in the past decade or don't have cable, even tthough all the ducting is in place and it would have been a simple job,

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