NTL is the last of the Famous five

NTL bought Virgin Mobile last week for nearly a billion pounds. Now that's a lot of money for around eight million users (60% UK based and 40% US based), most of whom are on pay as you go tarification and therefore classified as low ARPU (average revenue per user).

NTL, which has restructured after merging with Telewest, is going to take on yet another big brand, in a bid to protect itself from the competition; which is building up fast.

The British market now has five main actors actively looking forward to do quad play (Broadband, Landline, Television, Mobile) in a near future: NTL/Telewest Virgin, Carphone Warehouse, British Telecom, Pipex and Sky.

For now, some are still sharpening their services. Pipex for example has just purchased Caudwell Communications which includes Homecall and Phones4U and might eye another acquisition in the form of Homechoice. Carphone Warehouse and BT are missing the TV bit while Sky doesn't have any landline or mobile arm for the time being.

But, mark my word, it is only a matter of months before they all go four-play and then the blood shed will start.