Seeking Alpha

VMED
Virgin Media Inc. - NASDAQ

4/20/2014, 9:29 PM ET
Quote & Analysis Breaking News StockTalk Description
Sector: Services
|
Industry: CATV Systems
|
Country: United States

We are a leading provider of entertainment and communications services in the U.K., offering "quad-play" broadband internet, television, mobile telephony and fixed line telephony services. We are one of the U.K.'s largest providers of residential broadband internet, pay television and fixed line telephony services by number of customers. We believe our advanced, deep fiber access network enables us to offer faster and higher quality broadband services than our digital subscriber line, or DSL, competitors. As a result, we provide our customers with a leading next generation broadband service and one of the most advanced TV on-demand services available in the U.K. market. As of December 31, 2009, we provided service to approximately 4.8 million residential cable customers on our network. We are also one of the U.K.'s largest mobile virtual network operators by number of customers, providing mobile telephone service to 2.2 million prepay mobile customers and nearly one million contract mobile customers over third party networks. As of December 31, 2009, approximately 60.5% of residential customers on our cable network were "triple-play" customers, receiving broadband internet, television and fixed line telephone services from us, and approximately 10.7% were "quad-play" customers.

In addition, we provide a complete portfolio of voice, data and internet solutions to leading businesses, public sector organizations and service providers in the U.K. through Virgin Media Business (formerly ntl:Telewest Business). We also provide a broad range of programming through Virgin Media Television, or Virgin Media TV, which operates our wholly owned channels, such as Virgin1, Living and Bravo; and through UKTV, our joint ventures with BBC Worldwide.

In 2009, we implemented a new operating model for our organization, and made corresponding revisions to our internal reporting structure and the related financial information used by our management, including our chief operating decision maker, to assess the performance of our business. As of December 31, 2009, our operating segments were as follows:


Consumer: Our Consumer segment includes the distribution of television programming over our cable network and the provision of broadband and fixed line telephone services to residential consumers, both on and off our cable network. Our Consumer segment also includes our mobile telephony and mobile broadband operations, provided through Virgin Mobile.


Business: Our Business segment includes the voice and data telecommunication and internet solutions services we provide through Virgin Media Business to businesses, public sector organizations and service providers.


Content: Our Content segment includes the operations of our wholly owned television channels, such as Virgin1, Living and Bravo. Although not included in our Content segment revenue, our content management team also oversees our interest in the UKTV television channels through our joint ventures with BBC Worldwide. On April 1, 2009, we sold our sit-up reporting unit which operated a portfolio of auction based retail television channels and was formerly included within our Content segment.

For financial and other information on our segments, refer to note 18 to the consolidated financial statements of Virgin Media Inc. included elsewhere in this annual report.

Recent Developments

On January 19, 2010, we issued approximately £1.5 billion equivalent aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes in a private placement to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act, and outside the United States to certain non-U.S. persons pursuant to

Regulation S under the Securities Act. The notes were issued by our wholly owned subsidiary Virgin Media Secured Finance PLC in two tranches: $1.0 billion of 6.5% senior secured notes due 2018 and £875 million of 7.0% senior secured notes due 2018, collectively referred to as the senior secured notes. The net proceeds from the issuance of the senior secured notes were used to prepay a portion of the outstanding loans under our senior credit facility, reducing the outstanding amounts due under our senior credit facility to approximately £1.6 billion equivalent as of January 29, 2010.

The senior secured notes rank pari passu with our senior credit facility and, subject to certain exceptions, share in the same guarantees and security as granted in favor of our senior credit facility. For more information about our senior secured notes, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations and Financial Condition—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Senior Secured Notes."

Available Information and Website

Our principal executive offices are located at 909 Third Avenue, Suite 2863, New York, New York 10022, United States, and our telephone number is (212) 906-8440. Our U.K. headquarters are located outside of London, England in Hook, Hampshire. The public may read and copy any materials we file with the SEC at the SEC's Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. The public may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at (800) SEC-0330. Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to such reports filed with or furnished to the SEC under Sections 13(a) or 15(d) of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, are available free of charge on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov and on our website at www.virginmedia.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after they are filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. The investor relations section of our website can be accessed under the heading "About Virgin Media—Investors Information." The information on our website is not incorporated into our SEC filings.

Our Business

Our Cable Network Advantage

Uniquely in the U.K., our network architecture includes hybrid fiber coax, or HFC, with optical fiber deployed to street cabinets, and a twinned cable, consisting of both high-capacity coaxial cable and twisted copper-pair elements, extending from the street cabinet to the customer's home. We believe that this deployment of coaxial cable directly to the home closer to the end user, or deep fiber access, provides us with several competitive advantages in the areas served by our network. For example, our cable network allows us to concurrently deliver downstream broadband services, together with real-time television and video-on-demand content, at higher speeds and with less data loss than comparable services of other providers. Our competitors are reliant on the access infrastructure of the former state incumbent, BT Group plc, or BT, which typically relies on copper-pair technology from the local exchange to the customer's home. Service providers using DSL technology over BT's existing network can currently only provide video services subject to capacity limits which can affect data download speeds. Our cable network also offers benefits over the infrastructure of satellite service providers, which are unable to offer interactive services in the absence of a fixed line telephone connection, using third party access infrastructure. By contrast, our cable infrastructure allows us to provide "triple-play" bundled services of broadband internet, television and fixed line telephony services to residential customers in areas served by our network, without relying on a third-party service provider or network. See "—Our Network" below for more detailed information relating to our network.

Consumer Segment

Cable Products and Services

We provide cable broadband internet, television and fixed line telephone services under the Virgin Media brand to residential customers in the U.K. Our cable services are distributed via our wholly owned, local access cable network. Our cable network covers parts of many major metropolitan areas in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We offer our customers a choice of several packages and tariffs within each of our cable product categories. Our bundled packaging and pricing are designed to encourage our customers to purchase multiple services across our product portfolio by offering discounts to customers who subscribe to two or more of our products. The types and number of services that each customer uses, and the prices we charge for these services, drive our revenue. For example, broadband internet is more profitable than our television services and, on average, our "triple-play" customers are more profitable than "double-play" or "single-play" customers. As of December 31, 2009, 85.2% of our cable customers received multiple services from us and 60.5% were "triple-play" customers, receiving broadband internet, television and fixed line telephone services from us.

Broadband Internet

We deliver high-speed broadband internet services to customers on our cable network. As of December 31, 2009, we provided cable broadband services to approximately 3.8 million subscribers. In 2009, we completed significant upgrades to our network, including the network-wide roll-out of the latest DOCSIS 3.0 technology, which significantly increased upstream and downstream data transmission speeds across our network. Following these network upgrades, in July 2009, we became the first provider to offer download speeds of up to 50 Mbps to over 12 million homes across the U.K. In May 2009, we also initiated preliminary trials of download speeds of up to 200 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 10 Mbps within limited geographic areas.

Our broadband internet offering currently focuses on three tiers of high-speed broadband service at download speeds of up to 10 Mb, 20 Mb and 50 Mb, respectively. Our customers within each of these tiers also benefit from unlimited downloads, subject to our fair usage and traffic management policies, and advanced security software, including anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. In 2009, we also increased our focus on developing additional products to complement our broadband offering, such as our online data storage service, which allows our top tier subscribers to back-up, store and share specified amounts of data and photographs online for no additional charge. We also expect to launch a digital music service in 2010, which will allow our cable broadband customers to stream and download an unlimited number of music tracks from Universal Music's catalogue for a monthly subscription fee.

We operate a web portal, virginmedia.com, which offers a broad range of content, such as music, games, movies and television programming, including near-live clips of English football highlights. In December 2009, we introduced an online gaming channel to our web portal, which was followed in January 2010, by the launch of a music channel, offering streaming video content. Our customers are also able to access their email accounts and customer care information through our website. We generate revenue from our website, primarily from third-party advertising and search engines. We also use the website to cross-promote our product portfolio.

Television

We offer a wide range of television services to customers on our cable network. As of December 31, 2009, we provided cable television services to approximately 3.7 million residential subscribers, of which approximately 3.6 million received our digital television, or DTV service and approximately 87,000 received our analog television, or ATV, service.

Our DTV service includes access to over 160 linear television channels, advanced interactive features, and a range of premium subscription-based and pay-per-view services. From June 2009, our subscription-based premium television services have been provided by our Luxembourg subsidiary, Future Entertainment Sarl, trading as Virgin Media Entertainment. We offer a free-to-air digital television service, or Free TV, to certain customers on our cable platform. Our Free TV service provides access to approximately 45 linear channels and radio services such as Virgin1, Five US, Five, E4 and Yesterday. In addition to our linear television services, which allow our customers to view television programming at a scheduled time, our DTV and Free TV customers also have access to certain digital interactive services, including one of the most comprehensive video-on-demand, or VOD, services in the U.K. See "Virgin TV On Demand" below. We also provide ATV services to customers in limited geographic areas.

Our cable network enables us to deliver a broad range of digital interactive services, including games, news, entertainment and information services, from an on-screen menu. We also offer interactive "red button" applications from the BBC and other commercial broadcasters. "Red button" functionality in the U.K. permits television viewers to press a red button on their remote control handset to receive additional interactive services, including multiple broadcasts. For example, in a Wimbledon tennis broadcast, a customer can press the red button and choose which match to watch.

Virgin TV On Demand

Our VOD service, Virgin TV On Demand, provides our customers with instant access to a wide selection of premium movies, television programs and series, music videos and other on-demand content. The service offers features such as freeze-frame, fast-forward and rewind, which allow our customers increased control over the content and timing of their television viewing. Additionally, our cable network enables us to provide VOD content to our customers with no concurrent degradation of their broadband speed. As of December 31, 2009, we had over 4,500 hours of on-demand content. In 2009, our VOD usage increased to 74 million average monthly views in the fourth quarter, up from 55 million average monthly views in the first quarter. We believe that customers who use our VOD service are less likely to churn.

The primary types of content available within Virgin TV On Demand are TV programming, movies and music videos. A selection of content is available free of charge to all of our DTV customers. This is primarily focused within our 'catch-up' TV service which offers approximately 480 hours of popular broadcast TV shows. We also offer BBC iPlayer as part of our on-demand service, which enables viewers to catch-up on over 350 hours of BBC programs. In 2009, we expanded our VOD offering with content from ITV plc, or ITV, one of the largest commercial broadcasters in the U.K., including the addition of up to 80 hours of catch-up TV per week.

We offer our DTV customers a subscription VOD, or SVOD, package, including up to 2,300 episodes of premium TV programming and over 3,000 music videos. Our SVOD package is provided free of charge to subscribers to our top tier TV package and is available for an additional monthly fee to our other DTV customers. In 2009, we expanded our SVOD offering with the launch of 'PictureBox,' a subscription movie-on-demand service, offering premium movie content in both standard and high definition format, and the addition of over 250 hours of TV programming from ITV. All of our DTV customers also have access to pay-per-transaction content, including approximately 500 movies and our entire library of music videos. Pay-per-transaction movies and music are available for 24 hours after purchase and may be accessed multiple times during that period for a single fixed charge.

High Definition Television

In 2009, we expanded our high definition, or HD, television offering with the introduction of six linear HD channels: ESPN HD, LIVING HD, FX HD, MTV Networks HD, National Geographic Channel HD and C4 HD. We also offer HD versions of BBC linear and on-demand content. As of December 31, 2009, we offered approximately 260 hours of HD content on Virgin TV On Demand, including BBC iPlayer, HD films and a range of HD TV programming such as Generation Kill, The Sopranos and Planet Earth. Our HD content is available to our DTV and Free TV customers.

Digital Video Recorders

We offer one of the most advanced digital video recorders, or DVRs, in the U.K. Set-top boxes equipped with DVRs digitally record television programming to a hard disk in real-time, which allows customers to pause or rewind the program at any point during or after broadcast. The Virgin Media DVR, which is called the "V+ Box", is available to our DTV customer base for a premium monthly rental option or an up-front payment as part of our top tier package. The V+ Box has 160 Gigabytes of hard disk storage space (up to 80 hours of broadcast television), is HD-enabled and has three tuners, allowing viewers to record two programs while watching a third. Our V+ Box customers with an HD-compatible television can also access our HD on-demand content. As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately 862,000 V+ Box customers, representing 23.6% of our digital subscribers.

In 2009, we entered into a strategic partnership with TiVo Inc., or Tivo, to develop a next generation set-top box which provides converged television and broadband internet capabilities. Under the agreement, TiVo will become the exclusive provider of user interface software for our next generation set-top boxes and we will become the exclusive distributor of TiVo services and technology in the United Kingdom.

Fixed Line Telephony

We provide local, national and international telephony services to our residential customers on our cable network. We offer a basic line rental service to our cable customers for a fixed monthly fee. In addition to basic line rental, we also offer tiered bundles of features and services, including calling plans that enable customers to make unlimited national landline calls during specified periods, for an incremental fixed monthly fee. Our customers may also subscribe to additional services such as call waiting, call blocking, call forwarding, three-way calling, advanced voicemail and caller line identification services for an additional fee. As of December 31, 2009, we provided cable telephony services to approximately 4.1 million residential subscribers.

Mobile Products and Services

We provide mobile telephony services through Virgin Mobile, a leading mobile virtual network operator in the U.K. As a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, Virgin Mobile provides mobile telephony services to its customers over cellular networks owned by third parties. Our customer base comprises both pre-pay customers, who top up their accounts prior to using the services and have no minimum contracted term, and contract customers, who subscribe to our services for periods ranging from a minimum of 30 days up to 24 months. As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately 3.2 million mobile telephony customers, of which approximately 950,000 were contract customers.

We offer a broad range of mobile communications products and services, including mobile voice services and data services, such as SMS, picture messaging, games, news and music services. We also offer mobile broadband services which complement our fixed broadband offering. Our services are delivered over 2G, 2.5G, 3G and 3.5G platforms provided by our network partner, T-Mobile.

In 2009, we continued to focus on increasing our proportion of higher value contract customers, improving access to content via our mobile platform, and expanding our range of higher value mobile handsets. We continued to promote the use of our mobile platform to view internet and television content, by introducing features such as easier access to social networking applications via the mobile handset. In September 2009, we announced a new multiplatform agreement to carry Walt Disney content on our television, broadband and mobile platforms. We plan to make additional music and video content available via our mobile platform in 2010 and have introduced pricing bundles structured to promote the use of multimedia platforms among our mobile customers.

Non-cable Products and Services

We also provide broadband and telephone services to residential customers outside of our cable network, or non-cable customers, over third-party telecommunications networks. Our non-cable broadband internet services are provided via BT's local access network and unbundled BT exchanges from Cable & Wireless plc, or C&W. We offer various price and feature packages, including broadband service of up to 16 Mbps. As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately 265,700 non-cable broadband subscribers. We also provide fixed line telephone service to non-cable customers via BT's local access network. As of December 31, 2009, we provided non-cable fixed line telephone service to approximately 139,800 subscribers.

Marketing and Sales

Our consumer strategy focuses primarily on marketing bundled offerings of products and services across our "quad-play" portfolio to existing and potential customers. Our bundling strategy provides our customers with discounts from the price of buying our services separately and the convenience of a single bill. We believe that customers who subscribe to multiple services from us are less likely to churn. We also actively pursue opportunities to cross-sell complementary services across our product range and up-sell higher value services to our existing customers.

We offer our consumer products and services through a broad range of retail channels, including via telesales, customer care centers, online and points of sale. We also engage in direct marketing initiatives through a dedicated national sales force of approximately 250 representatives, as well as comprehensive national and regional mass media advertising initiatives. In 2009, we significantly expanded our portfolio of own brand stores with the opening of 26 Virgin Media branded retail stores and the introduction of 23 Virgin Media branded shopping center kiosks. Our own brand stores and kiosks offer a complete range of our consumer products and services and, on average, more than half of customers that subscribed to our services at one of our own brand stores during 2009 took one of our triple-play or quad-play product bundles. As of December 31, 2009, we had in aggregate 49 own brand stores and 23 kiosks.

In February 2010, we announced our agreement with leading electronics retailer, Best Buy, to showcase and sell Virgin Media products in their stores in the U.K., which are expected to open in the second quarter of 2010. We also offer primarily our mobile telephony products through approximately 4,300 third party sales outlets in the U.K., including approximately 1,300 specialist outlets of our distribution partners, such as Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U. In addition, we offer SIM-only products and mobile airtime vouchers through independent retailers across the U.K.

Customer Service

We believe that effective customer service contributes to customer satisfaction, which results in reduced churn and improved acquisition rates of new customers. As of December 31, 2009, we employed approximately 2,450 staff for our cable and non-cable call centers, and approximately

500 staff for our mobile telephony call centers, in the U.K. We also use outsourced consumer call centers in the U.K., India and South Africa.

Business Segment

Our Business segment, managed through Virgin Media Business (formerly ntl:Telewest Business), offers a broad portfolio of voice, data and internet solutions to commercial customers in the U.K., ranging from analog telephony to managed data networks and applications. Through Virgin Media Business, we provide services to approximately 65,000 U.K. businesses and over 250 local councils. We also supply communications services to over half of the U.K.'s emergency services providers.

Products and Services

Voice

We offer a comprehensive range of voice products, from analog and digital services to converged internet protocol, or IP, telephony solutions. Our business voice solutions include basic features, such as call divert and voicemail, as well as innovative products such as Centrex, which provides switchboard-like capability that is managed from our telephone exchange, offering our customers a cost-effective, scalable alternative to a premise-based system.

Data and Internet Services

Converged Solutions

Our converged solutions use a single network to transport voice, data and video, allowing our customers to benefit from cost synergies. Additionally, we offer services such as IP virtual private networks, which enable our customers to prioritize bandwidth for different types of traffic so that more time sensitive data or critical application data is transported with priority, providing increased flexibility and control over data management. Our extensive network reach also enables us to offer large or dispersed organizations the ability to effectively link sites across the U.K. using a wide range of access technologies, supporting services such as voice and video conferencing, instant messaging and file transfers.

Ethernet

As a market leader in Ethernet solutions in the U.K., the Virgin Media Business Ethernet network has approximately 330 Ethernet nodes and is capable of carrying a variety of services and high bandwidth applications simultaneously. We have been delivering Ethernet services for over 10 years and have achieved both Metro Ethernet Forum, or MEF 9 and MEF 14 accreditation, ensuring our Ethernet product portfolio can support stringent real-time communications applications, including voice over IP, or VOIP, and HD-quality videoconferencing. We offer a range of products from local area network extensions to managed wide area Ethernet networks, providing our customers with high bandwidth and flexible solutions, including market-leading point to multi-point services.

Applications and Services

As an overlay to network products, we also offer applications, such as IP CCTV and video-conferencing, and managed services, such as information security services, designed to increase flexibility and reduce costs to our customers.

Marketing, Sales and Customer Service

Our marketing, sales and customer service initiatives are structured around the differentiated needs of our retail and wholesale customers. Our retail customer base is comprised of private and public sector businesses, while our wholesale customers include primarily mobile and fixed-line service providers, systems integrators, or SIs, and internet service providers, or ISPs.

Retail Customers

Private Sector

Our private sector retail services focus on the telecommunications needs of small businesses to large, national corporations. Centralized telephone account managers serve small organizations (with 50 to 99 employees), while regionally-located account, service and project management teams, supported by pre-sales technical consultants, provide service to medium and large U.K. businesses (with over 100 employees). We believe that our local presence and the resulting level of service we provide is a key differentiator in this mid-market segment, and that the benefits of this strategy are reflected in the long-term relationships held with many of our private sector customers.

Public Sector

Our public sector retail services are structured around industry-specific segments, such as local government, education, health and emergency services. This enables us to provide sector-specific expertise where an understanding of the drivers and procurement processes of publicly funded organizations are necessary for efficient deployment of communications solutions. We believe that the inclusion of Virgin Media Business as an approved supplier under various government framework agreements acts as both an enabler of growth of our market share in this sector and an endorsement of our track-record, commitment and capability to offer value to publicly funded organizations.

Wholesale Customers

Our wholesale services are structured around the network requirements of the different types of service providers. Specialized account and service management teams support carriers, mobile operators, SIs and ISPs. We provide predominantly data connectivity services, both in terms of local access and core networks, including high bandwidth connections between a site and the core network.

Content Segment

Our Content Segment, managed through Virgin Media TV, provides non-premium television channels to the U.K. multi-channel broadcasting market. As of December 31, 2009, Virgin Media TV offered seven genre-based entertainment channels and six additional time-shifted, or "multiplexed," channels which provide a time-delayed rebroadcast of content on our channels. The Virgin Media channel portfolio includes Virgin1, Living, Bravo, Challenge and Challenge Jackpot.

Virgin Media also owns a 50% interest in the companies that comprise the UKTV Group, a series of joint ventures with BBC Worldwide. Together, Virgin Media TV and the UKTV Group are the largest supplier of basic pay channels to the U.K. pay television market. UKTV operates ten channels, including G.O.L.D., Yesterday, Eden, Alibi, Blighty, Good Food and Dave, as well as associated multiplexed channels.

On April 1, 2009, we sold our sit-up reporting unit which operated a portfolio of auction based retail television channels and was formerly included within our Content segment. We formerly participated in a joint venture with Setanta Sports Limited and Setanta Sport Holdings Limited for the production of a 24-hour sports news channel, Setanta Sports News. However, in June 2009, Setanta Sports Limited and Setanta Sport Holdings Limited commenced proceedings for administration and receivership, respectively. As a result, Setanta Sports News ceased to broadcast with immediate effect. Following discussions with the administrator and the receiver, we agreed terms for the dissolution of the joint venture in February 2010.

Virgin Media TV generates revenues largely on advertising and subscription revenues from the television programming it supplies to the U.K. multi-channel television market. The Virgin Media TV channels and UKTV channels are available via a number of platforms, including our own analog and digital platforms and a third-party satellite digital platform. The channels generate revenue by the sale of airtime and sponsorship to advertisers and advertising agencies managed through our wholly-owned advertising sales subsidiary, Interactive Digital Sales Limited, or IDS. Most channels also generate distribution revenue based on either the number of customers subscribing to programming packages carried by the relevant platform operators or a fixed monthly fee. Virgin Media TV and UKTV are also represented on Freeview, a U.K. free-to-air digital television service, with the channels Yesterday, Dave and Virgin1 available to Freeview viewers as well as subscribers to all multi-channel platforms.

Our Network

We deliver high-speed voice and data services over our HFC network using Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 3.0, or DOCSIS 3.0. Our deep fiber access network enables us to transmit data by means of fiber optic cable from origination points known as "headends" and "hubs" to a group of distribution "nodes." The connection into each home from the fiber access network comprises two components combined into a single drop cable. First, to provide television services and high-speed broadband internet access, we use high capacity, two-way, coaxial cable which has considerable bandwidth and is able to support a full portfolio of linear and on-demand TV services as well as high-speed broadband services. We currently offer download speeds of up to 50 Mbps via coaxial cable, and have trials underway with respect to download speeds of up to 200 Mbps. Second, we use short length twisted copper-pair to connect fixed line telephony services to our fiber access network. Our relatively short twisted copper pairs (typically 500 meters in length) are also capable of supporting the latest Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line 2, or VDSL2, broadband technologies, enabling speeds of up to 50 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream. As a result of the extensive use of fiber in our access networks, we are also able to provide high-speed Ethernet services directly to business customers and provide nationwide area networking to these customers via our core networks.

We believe that our deep fiber access network has enabled us to take a leading position in the roll-out of next generation broadband access technologies in the U.K. In 2009, we completed significant upgrades to our network, including the network-wide roll-out of the latest DOCSIS 3.0 technology, which significantly increased upstream and downstream transmission speeds across our network. We also invested in extending our network and upgrading from analogue to digital in select urban areas where a significant level of traffic is anticipated. In 2009, we upgraded or extended our network to provide "triple play" cable capability to over 100,000 additional homes. As of December 31, 2009, approximately 96% of the homes served by our cable network could receive all our broadband, digital television and fixed line telephone services.

We also employ a variety of alternative methods to connect our national telecommunications network over the "last mile" to the premises of customers located beyond the reach of our cable network, including by leasing circuits and DSL connections on the local networks of other service providers.

Our mobile communication services are provided over cellular networks owned by third parties. Our main mobile network provider is T-Mobile. We also use networks owned by other partners to provide some ancillary services. T-Mobile currently operates 2G, 2.5G, 3G and 3.5G networks in the U.K.

Information Technology

The operation and support of our information technology systems are performed by a mix of outsourced and internally managed services. These systems include billing, enterprise resource planning, business intelligence, corporate network, payroll, data center and desktop infrastructure. We are also continuing to decommission or consolidate a number of diverse software applications and hardware platforms in order to reduce our dependency on high cost external support and management services. In 2009, we also completed the in-sourcing of services from one of our outsourced providers, as part of our plan to consolidate systems and partners.