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NTL:Telewest scores with Virgin

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NTL:Telewest finally announced completion of its buy-up of Virgin Mobile today after getting the green light from the High Court.

Virgin Mobile's shares have been delisted from the stock exchange. It'll continue serving its four million punters as a separate entity for a while, most likely until early 2007, NTL:Telewest says.

Then, under the licensing arrangement which is a key driver behind the acquisition, NTL:Telewest will begin offering a quadruple-play of broadband, TV, mobile, and fixed phone lines to consumers under the Virgin brand.

NTL:Telewest CEO Steve Burch said: "This...will create a formidable competitor in the UK's fast changing communications and entertainment industries."

Virgin founder and beardy billionaire Sir Richard Branson said: "Today, we've created a unique organisation - a new, soon-to-be-branded Virgin company - which will offer the very finest in 'quadruple'.

"Through our new company, our aim is to offer consumers the very best, most sought-after choice available. You ain't, as the saying goes, seen nothing yet..."

Getting its hands on the Virgin name means NTL:Telewest will have a sexier market presence when the time comes to compete in the impending quadruple-play dust-up with the grunt of Murdoch's Sky, the power of France Telecom's Orange brand, and a still widely trusted household name like BT. The giants are all betting on people preferring to get one bill rather than four.

Meanwhile, an ISP survey by Point Topic says consolidation is already the trend. In news which should give regulators at Ofcom food for thought, the top 10 ISPs are increasingly dominant, with 88 per cent of the market now in their vice-like grip. See the chilling bar chart here. ®

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