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Freebie users pump up Virgin’s bottom line

New customers bolster figures in wake of ‘no-charge’ announcement

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Online Service Provider (OSP), Virgin Net, has attracted more than 50,000 new customers to its service in the last 10 weeks despite the fact that it only became subscription-free at the weekend. Although Virgin Net has been holding back until now to begin marketing the service it hasn't been able to stop the steady increase in its customer base. Since it made its announcement in February, Virgin Net has been migrating its existing customers over to a new digital network from backbone provider, and 49 per cent minority partner, NTL. Virgin Net claims that this new network will be able to cope with the expected hike in demand and provide users with the "most advanced IP network in the UK". The UK OSP has also reported that traffic has increased on its portal. It claims that it now has 800,000 distinct users of its site -- far more than the number of subscribers. This is contrary to at least one over excited report which got the wrong end of the stick by confusing the terms subscribers and users. Still, this won't bother Virgin Net or its publicity-hungry supremo Richard Branson who will have another opportunity next week with the launch of the Virgin Megastore ecommerce site. ®

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