Mark Heraghty discusses how best to meet business demands for broadband, and the goal of reaching 100 per cent coverage across the country.
V3.co.uk: What was the reasoning behind the recent rebrand
of NTL:Telewest Business?
Mark Heraghty: We felt that the NTL:Telewest Business brand had gone as far as it could. We were the third largest provider in the industry, but a lot of people weren't aware of this fact or didn't approach us for business. As such we decided to bring everything in under the Virgin brand. With the Virgin name we hope we can seriously challenge BT for customers by offering a clear second choice to businesses for their broadband requirements, much like Virgin Atlantic does against BA.
How are you working to offer networks that can meet business
Reliability and resilience are key issues for businesses, and we are currently in the middle of a series of significant investment works in many areas of our networks. This is not just on the fibre itself, but in the back-end areas of assets on the networks. This will enable us to improve the power management and monitoring of the networks, and allow us to be aware of any faults as soon as they happen.
How do you think the provision of broadband to the whole of the UK
could best be achieved?
The days of building a network in the hope of then attracting customers are over. We only install a new network if asked to do so, and we believe there is a strong business case for doing so. As such, reaching the last 10 per cent of the country will be difficult. Between ourselves and BT we have almost 70 per cent of the country covered, but reaching the remaining areas will need to be funded. How it is funded, and who pays for it, is something that both government and industry need to consider.
What about the news that BT is to open up its ducts to other firms?
Will that be something you take advantage of?
My own view is that it is better for us to offer our own networks direct to customers. But if the option to share ducts is open to us, and means we can offer the same level of service, it is something we would consider taking advantage of in the future.
Have you seen a recent change in IT department procurement
It's been noticeable that chief information officers are now under more pressure than ever to do more with less. Many IT departments now have to weigh up the capital expenditure required to update and improve their departments against the operational costs they will save by doing so. However, whatever the economic conditions and what this means for IT budgets, I am bullish about the growth of our data services for the future. I think there will be double-digit year-on-year growth, even if budgets in the industry are reduced.
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