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Virgin Media only adds another 127,000 homes to Project Lightning

Lightning by name... not on track to hit 800k 2017 target

UK cable biz Virgin Media added just 127,000 extra peeps to its superfast broadband programme during its second quarter – putting the outfit behind its 2017 target for the £3bn Project Lightning network expansion.

Virgin Media had intended to connect an extra 700,000 to 800,000 homes in the UK this year with speeds of up to 300Mbps, before it was forced to admit it had overstated its connections by 142,000.

In the last quarter Virgin added 102,000 connections, meaning it will have to connect up to 571,000 homes over the rest of the year to hit the original target. So far Virgin has connected 796,000 of the 4 million premises due to be complete by 2019.

Sales figures for June, seen by The Register, revealed that Virgin Media has only hit 57 per cent of its sales target for Project Lightning this month.

It's been a busy quarter for the company, having recently announced it will close one-third of its offices, which currently cost £20m to run, with plans afoot to shed 250 jobs and shut 30 stores.

Revenue for UK and Ireland rose 0.9 per cent to £1.2bn, for the firm's preliminary second quarter results. Operating income decreased by £1.5 million to £77.5 million in Q2 due to higher depreciation and amortisation charges, it said.

Total internet subscribers rose to 5.39 million for the quarter, up from 5.17 million the same time last year.

Liberty Global chief exec Mike Fries said: "With respect to Project Lightning, we've made significant strides in solidifying the foundation of the program through the appointment of a dedicated new leadership team9, as well as an overhaul of key processes and procedures.

"During Q2, we built 127,000 new premises at Virgin Media, including a record monthly build performance in June, and our cumulative total now stands at nearly 800,000 premises since the project's inception.

"Meanwhile, on the European continent, the number of new build and upgraded homes in markets like Germany and CEE continue to broadly track our expectations. In these regions, we have added a cumulative total of 1.4 million newly marketable premises over the last 2 years." ®

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