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Virgin Media cool on cable wholesale plans

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Virgin Media has denied a report it has secret plans to wholesale access to its cable network to broadband and phone competitors next year.

The Guardian today claimed chief executive Neil Berkett wants to open up Virgin Media's infrastructure in 18 months' time.

The firm has long considered following BT's Openreach setup by creating a separate division to provide engineering support to rival retailers. Today a spokesman said such a move remains under consideration, but no decision has been taken and no schedule drawn up.

"The report in this morning's edition of the Guardian does not reflect Virgin Media's position and we have no plans to develop a wholesale proposition," the spokesman said.

"In the context of the government's Digital Britain initiative and Ofcom's recent review of next generation access, we have considered a range of strategic options but currently remain focused on delivering market leading retail services."

In its recent submission to Lord Carter's Digital Britain review, Sky said it believed Virgin Media's closed network was "increasingly anomalous".

In public, Berkett has consistently hedged on whether his firm would allow to competition. In December he said it was "not inconceivable".

The firm appears to have the luxury of choice for the forseeable future. Ofcom recently said it has no immediate plans to force an open cable network because Virgin Media is investing in broadband upgrades. ®

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