Fries outlines Project Lightning steps, DOCSIS 3.1 plan

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries

Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media plans to ramp up its investment in its network in the UK through Project Lightning, and Liberty will begin trials of DOCSIS 3.1 in key markets next, year according to president and CEO Mike Fries.

Speaking on an analyst call after the group’s quarterly results, Fries said that early results from Virgin Media’s Project Lightning expansion programme had been “encouraging” and confirmed that Lightning would see Virgin Media extend its network to 10 more towns and cities in the second half of the year before accelerating in 2016.

Fries said that Project Lightning had released 80,000 homes to marketing in the first half and was targeting 150,000 homes in Manchester and a further 80,000 in Leeds.

Separately, Fries said that Liberty Global would begin live trials of DOCSIS 3.1-based broadband in some markets next year. He said that over 40% of the operator’s footprint in the UK and Germany would be ready for the deployment of DOCSIS 3.1 next year, with 80% of the overall footprint ready for the introduction of the technology within three years.

Regarding Liberty’s troubled acquisition of Ziggo in the Netherlands, Fries admitted that the operator had a “bumpy start” but said that he believed the integration of Ziggo with UPC Netherlands was “getting back on track”.

Fries said that Liberty Global would introduce new quality programmes to tackle problems in the Dutch market and had also introduced a new summer deal that was beginning to capture market share.

Answering analysts’ questions, Fries admitted that Liberty had experienced “a perfect storm” in the Dutch market and said that it could have managed integration and harmonisation of the two companies better.

Fries said that the company’s Liberty 3.0 programme, involving the centralization of procurement, networks and technology and the decentralisation of sales and marketing, designed to stimulate top-line growth, would result in Liberty Global moving from  “low single digit” to “high single-digit” growth in respect of operating cash-flow over the “next three to four years”.

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