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Virgin Media blames scruffy students for HUGE drop in cable subscribers

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Virgin Media reported flat second quarter revenue this morning as it presented its first results since falling into the clutches of US cable giant Liberty Global.

The telco attributed its tiny 0.6 per cent sales growth (£1.03bn) during the period ended 30 June to VM's decision to jack up prices for its cable business earlier this year.

But the company suffered a dip in its mobile division, where revenue fell nearly six per cent to £124m compared with £131.8m for the same quarter a year earlier.

Virgin Media's non-cable unit - which now comprises 168,600 ADSL subscribers - unsurprisingly stumbled a massive 20.7 per cent to £14.6m from £18.4m in 2012.

Its business segment also took a battering: revenue slipped more than 11 per cent to £147.5m compared with £166m during last year's Q2. Virgin Media partly blamed the drop on a decline in voice sales and some contract renegotiation with partners.

Peter Kelly has been poached from Vodafone to take charge of Virgin Media Business. He will replace the unit's interim managing director Tony Grace, who returns to his previous job as chief operating officer of that division.

As for its consumer base, Virgin Media said it had lost 23,500 "customer relationships" in the quarter - by which it means "customer accounts", a number reflecting the number of users on its books, regardless of the type or number of services they consume. That's a big leap from 2012's second quarter figures, when 14,700 customers unhooked from the service provider.

Altogether 3,200 subscribers ditched the company's broadband services during Q2.

The company claimed that the "sequentially higher churn" was largely due to student movers at the end of the academic year.

Virgin Media, which became part of the Liberty Global family on 7 June, currently has close to 4.9 million customers on its books, of which 65 per cent are taking out triple-play products (broadband, telephone and TV).

The company added that more than 40 per cent of its broadband subscribers were now taking out broadband services with download speeds of 60 Mbit/s or higher. ®

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