Virgin Media's "Big Red Internet" Service Launched?

Virgin Media Business has announced a service called Big Red Internet designed to offer extra capacity to businesses to help remove bandwidth issues for IT staff.

The two-tier service, available from today, offers 100Mbit/s or 1Gbit/s upload and download speeds for a one-off annual fee on a three-year contract.

The 100Mbit/s service will cost £12,000 unmanaged or £13,000 managed per annum, and the 1Gbit/s service will cost £22,000 or £25,000 managed. Managed services include installation and configuration of routers and proactive network management.

Mark Heraghty, managing director of Virgin Media Business, explained that most customers either want 10Mbit/s to 30Mbit/s or 60Mbit/s to 100Mbit/s speeds, and the firm is to offer the high-level speeds by exploiting unused capacity on its network.

"The peak service time on our network is usually around 10pm, and in the daytime it's essentially empty. So we want to leverage that unused capacity to enable businesses to do more with their connections," he said.

"Furthermore, it actually costs us money to throttle the bandwidth we provide to businesses, and giving them more than they need costs us nothing. This is about giving IT staff the ability to focus on what they can do, not what they can't do."

Companies that have no desire to increase their capacity will not be forced to upgrade, but Virgin Media Business is confident that many will see the benefit of increasing capacity.

Matt McCloskey, senior manager of applications and services at Virgin Media Business, told that the service will be "highly disruptive" in the broadband market, and that other providers will be unable to compete.

"Almost 85 per cent of businesses nationwide will be able to receive this service by being connected to our network. We will carry out any installations free of charge, and will help firms prepare for several years' worth of capacity," he said.

"Only one other provider in the market has the same level of network investment that we do, and we don't think they will be able to copy this service. It's a simple, effective service that we are hoping a lot of businesses will take note of."

McClusky explained that Virgin Media Business first considered the service in April, and that one of the key drivers was a desire to offer IT managers reliable, high-speed connections to help them invest in new key services.

"A lot of chief information officers told us they weren't using services like cloud computing as they weren't assured of the reliability or speed that online access offered compared to on-premise," he said.

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