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Happy New Year From Cable Forum

# 31 December 2006, 20:12 by Cable Forum

There is just a few hours to go until the end of 2006 and what a year it has been. The team would like to wish, its members, visitors and one and all, a happy and prosperous 2007. But alas, we aren’t going to end on just a few simple words, nope, I cannot do that without at least looking back on 2006 and the year its been for the UK cable industry.

The media tend to always do a little ‘Year in review’ documentary, so I thought why not do the same here.

So here we have, just a select few of some of the news items, some nice, some not so nice news and some just plain news items from each of the months gone by this year….

At the start of 2006, January, saw ntl trying to attempt a deal at acquiring Virgin Mobile, at that time, press reports indicated ntl were going to attempt a second offer, after the first one was rejected by the virgin board, due to it ‘materially undervaluing’ the company.

In Jan 2006, ntlShop appeared on the ntlworld portal.

Also in Jan 2006, ntl had announced at a London Conference, that it was due soon to complete its merger with Telewest, ntl had also talked about market research revealing that, “Virgin” and ‘Tesco” have the two top brands and there was even a hint then, that ntl had been interested in using the ‘Tesco’ brand having first failed at the time to obtain the ‘Virgin’ brand.

In February, a high court ordered ten ISP’s including ntl and Telewest, to hand over subscriber details of persons, illegally sharing software. The ISPs were expected to provide the names, addresses and other personal details of the alleged file-sharers.

Also in Feb, ntl and ARRIS started 100Mb Broadband Speed Trials.

ntl and BitTorrent announce a joint technology trial, the trial was to consist of ultra high-speed, legal downloadable videos in the UK.

ntl also launched a new On Demand website in this month.

In March, ntl had reported a net loss with the last three months of 2005, whilst Telewest had experienced its best quarter in four years.

ntl had announced an end to free calling customer service and faults from May 8th. (It wasn’t to last long).

Despite backing out of the bidding of football rights of live premiership games in November 2005, in March, in a u-turn, ntl had announced that it intends to bid again for the broadcast rights.

Many ntl broadband subscribers on 10th March, seemed to have a problem connecting to popular internet sites such as ebay and google. This was later officially confirmed as a suspected denial of service attack on its network.

Also in March, Telewest announced the closure of its head office in Woking, Surrey.

And towards the end of March, a sudden clause change in ntl’s acceptable user policy appeared without any notification to its broadband customers, ‘Taffic shaping’. Cable Forum had queried this sudden appearance with ntl, for them to come back and tell us it had appeared by mistake and the clause had been removed.

In April, ntl had announced that it had reached an agreement with Virgin Mobile.

Also in April, ntl had announced price changes for June 2006.

ntl also responded to Carphone Warehouse’s free broadband offer by stating “Cable customers can also enjoy broadband combined with a phone service and advanced digital TV services, including TV on demand, from £30 a month. Whereas Carphone Warehouse customers taking this new deal would be hit by bills totalling nearly £36 if they wanted to add Sky’s basic TV package.”

And channel 4 began to offer some of its programmes on ntl:Telewests VOD platform.

In May 2006, saw Branson and BskyB boss, Murdoch battle it out for six packages of football rights to broadcast live premiership games. In the end, ntl didn’t manage to obtain a single package. Sky obtained four and Irish pay TV group, Setanta obtained two, under new auction rules, a single operator was forbiddin to obtain and own all six packages of rights.

May saw another outage for a substantial amount of ntl broadband customers due to another denial of service attack on its network, the second within as many months.

Telewest announced that its customers could watch the World Cup in HDTV (I do apologise that I had to mention the World Cup).

Also in May, ntl became bottom in a ‘YouGov’ survey. 16,000 adults took part, the survey was done for comparison website, uswitch.com.

And also in May saw Tom Alexander, founder and Chief Executive of Virgin Mobile, decided to leave the company following its acquisition by ntl Telewest.

Towards the end of May, ntl launched a dating service on its ntlworld.com portal.

In June 2006, ntl began upgrading 2Mb broadband customers to 4Mb.

ntl removed Big Game TV from its channel lineup due to the Police raiding the Big Game TV studios, the channel was being investigated, after alleged reports about their business practises.

In June, ntl had denied a report in the Times newspaper that it is considering legal action against the Premier League because it was unhappy about the way that live rights were sold to Sky and Setanta Sports in an earlier auction.

In July, ntl announced their acquisition of Virgin Mobile was complete.

ntl also announced its intentions to offer free digital TV to all new home phone customers. ntl also talked about Quadplay. Both offerings being available in September 2006.

In August, ntl announced that it was going to finally reorganise their channel numbering, to make it more logical. All channels were to be categorised so making searching for them easier. But did it help you? (You don’t have to answer this).

In September, free TV was launched for new or existing ntl home phone customers.

After just so many months of ending free calling to customer services and faults, ntl decided to re-introduce free calling to customers services for its fixed line customers. Customers dial either 150 / 151 from their ntl landline. After approaching ntl and asking why this was re-introduced, ntl claimed they were re-aligning systems and procedures, with that of Telewest’s.

And towards the end of September, Quadplay was launched. ‘Three for £30’ customers were able to bolt-on the mobile package to their existing deal, turning it into ‘Four for £40’. Customers on any of ntl:Telewest’s other packages were able to add Virgin Mobile for £10 a month. (Well perhaps not all customers due to the weird and different credit checking systems in place at Virgin Mobile HQ).

In October, ntl:Telewest had finally admitted to us after we asked them, that it does implement traffic shaping on its network – but insisted this is only in some places, at some times, when it was absolutely necessary.

Again In October, we learned of some prices from a leaked internal memo to staff that its TVDrive service will be £10 or £15 a month depending on which TV channels the customer subscribed to.

Channel 4 released some more of its programmes on VoD, some for free.

After a few weeks of launch, ntl customers trying to obtain the new Virgin Mobile deal, were hit with barriers in trying to get signed up for the £10 per month offer of, 300 anytime, any network minutes and 300 Texts per month. The major barrier was the credit checking systems at Virgin Mobile, some customers with years of ntl service were rejected of the offer due to failing Virgin’s credit check. Totally bizarre.

ntl had agreed that both theirs and Virgin’s credit checking systems were different and were planning to align them.

In November, ntl announced its intentions to rebrand as, ‘Virgin Media’, in the early stages of 2007.

Also in November, both ITV and ntl had responded to speculation that ntl has spoken of an interest in acquiring ITV and both parties were prepared to negotiate, for a deal to be made. But it wasn’t to be, not if the competition had anything do about it. Rupert Murdoch’s, BSkyB, effectively blocked further progress by purchasing a significant amount of shares in ITV.

Also in November, Lucky residents in Glasgow and Teeside got a taster to TVDrive as ntl launched it first in these areas.

In December and as we arrive at our current time destination, not much happening, ntl conducted a poll into what kids actually wanted for christmas, apparently the results indicated a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) was the second sought after present?

And only the other week, Telewest’s Blueyonder customers suffered a 1 and 1/2 hour outage, a failing core router was apparently to blame.

And just reported the other day, yet again, Sky beats ntl, this time round, by securing a years ads sponsorship deal with Virgin Radio. Virgin Radio would of been a very heavy publicity tool for ntl to do a mass nationwide ad campaign to promote its rebranding to Virgin Media.

For those still reading at this point….

.... Happy New Year! 2007 Here we come!

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