Virgin Media has announced that it will switch off its internet services in an area of Westminster because BT's infrastructure is unable to accommodate its superfast fibre network.
A letter sent to Virgin Media customers in the area confirmed that all services will be turned off by January 2012, and that the company will help customers to switch providers.
"We use BT's infrastructure to deliver services in Westminster and are unable to upgrade the network and deliver our own next-generation digital services at a reasonable cost," said a spokesperson.
"We are speaking to our customers now to ensure they have plenty of time to decide on an alternative service or provider, and will do everything we can to help them make the switch."
Writing on a Virgin Help and Support forum, Westminster resident 'markallday' voiced his frustration at learning of the news.
"I have been previously told that this would happen 'within a few years' ...that was back in 2003! Today [28/05] I contacted your customer service to be told that there 'are no plans to upgrade this area'," he wrote.
In response a moderator said: "The fact that [Westminster] is a conservation area restricts us from being able to do the work needed to upgrade it to a digital service."
Cesar Bachelet, a senior analyst at Analysys Mason, told V3 that the move is not hugely significant in a wider context, but is a reminder that, despite Virgin Media regularly touting its network's capabilities, the company still has to lease access in many areas.
"People forget that Virgin Media was formed by the consolidation of many smaller companies over time, such as NTL and Telewest, so in locations such as this it is reliant on BT's infrastructure to provide access to its services," he said.
"Virgin will have wanted to upgrade from the analogue system to cable to offer TV and high-speed broadband services, but it's obviously too expensive or not viable to do so and it's decided to pull out of the region."
Virgin has been showing off its ability to deliver internet speeds of 1.5Gbit/s to businesses in the Silicon Roundabout area of Old Street, and start-ups in the TechHub community have praised its capabilities.
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