Virgin Media boots Westminster customers offline

Virgin Media has confirmed it will be withdrawing its broadband and TV services from Westminster, blaming an ageing infrastructure which it is not allowed to upgrade.

The company, born when cable specialist NTL:Telewest bought Virgin Media and underwent a rebrand to its current name, currently offers TV and broadband Internet access to around 3,000 people in the Westminster area of London.

Plans to offer a 100Mb/s service have fallen foul of a crumbling infrastructure which, the company claims, simply can't handle the kind of speeds for which Virgin Media would like to be known. As a result, the company is to withdraw its TV and broadband packages entirely from the area.

The problem stems from a lack of fibre-optic cabling in Westminster, which forces Virgin Media to fall back on using BT's copper infrastructure and this, it says, is unable to cope with the high speeds demanded of it.

"From January 2012, we will no longer be able to provide our existing broadband and analogue TV services to homes in Westminster," a Virgin Media spokesperson has confirmed.

"We use BT's infrastructure to deliver services in Westminster and are unable to upgrade the network and deliver our own next-generation digital services at a reasonable cost. We are speaking to our customers now to ensure they have plenty of time to decide on an alternative service or provider and will do everything we can to help them make the switch."

While its customers are unlikely to be happy with the move, Virgin Media's hands are tied: much of Westminster is a conservation area, meaning the company couldn't lay fibre-optic cabling even if it could afford to do so. Why an inability to provide high-speed services translates into a refusal to provide any services, however, is not yet known.