Virgin Media Ireland CEO urges Northern Ireland businesses
to increase digital activity

BELFAST – 13th October 2016: Virgin Media Ireland CEO Tony Hanway spoke at the MAC in Belfast today to a gathering of Northern Ireland businesses where he urged a continuing focus on the use of digital technologies to ensure future competitiveness.

Research for Virgin Media shows that digital technologies are helping UK companies to contribute £123billion* to the economy, with the creation of 1.1m new jobs expected.

The prospects for digital job creation are very positive with an expected demand for 32,000 new jobs being created in Northern Ireland over the next two years.

Hanway said there are further opportunities for digital technologies to have a positive effect on Northern Ireland’s economy, which currently lags the rest of the UK in terms of increases in revenue from digital, the number of digital jobs being created, and in the future potential to achieve growth in revenues from digital.

“In 2015, Virgin Media launched its biggest investment under Project Lightning worth £3 Billion to supercharge and expand our ultrafast fibre optic network across businesses and communities throughout the UK. This means that, by 2019, 4 million homes and businesses across the UK will be added to the Virgin Media network, including Northern Ireland.”

Hanway pointed to a currently ongoing fibre network rollout which has started in Newtownards delivering home broadband speeds of 200Mb and business speeds of 300Mb. The project is using an innovative way of bringing ultrafast fibre broadband directly to homes and premises with minimal disruption. Called narrow-trenching, it reduces the width of the trench used to lay optical fibre cables from around 40cm to just 10cm. This enables engineers to cover up to 100m a day, making it more than twice as fast as current methods.

“People talk a lot about ‘digital disruption’ and what this is really about is using digital to create an advantage for your business, to disrupt the current market status-quo and to create positive new changes and effects in the economy,” said Hanway.
Additional points covered in Tony Hanway’s comments included:

• 64% of businesses in Northern Ireland have a web presence and the majority of these sites have been optimised to work across different screens and browsers. These are figures which indicate that businesses here are aware of the need to enhance their customers’ experiences as more than 9 out of 10 internet users now shop online.**


• Only 1 in 5 companies in Northern Ireland currently have an online business app, or any way to process sales online.**


• In 2015 the digital opportunity contributed only £285m to firms’ revenue growth in Northern Ireland, while the comparable figure for the rest of the UK was €38 billion. That is, revenue growth of 0.5% from digital for Northern Ireland businesses, compared to 4.3% revenue growth in the rest of the UK.*


• Some of the issues at play are fundamental; ineffective hardware or software is a concern for more than 6 out of ten firms here. Attracting talented people is also a challenge for the majority of firms.**


Virgin Media Business connectivity services help SMEs to make their businesses work harder and faster and to support their business growth. Virgin Media now offers ultrafast connectivity, with speeds of up to 300Mbps – almost four times faster than its main competitors’ widely available top speeds. This enables businesses to reach their potential by delivering better services and greater capacity.


With ultrafast broadband, powering everything from ecommerce to digital marketing instantly becomes easier, enabling firms to respond more effectively to the needs of their customers. Indicatively, a report by Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index in 2015 found that digitally ambitious businesses are 33% more likely to achieve growth than those who are not. This includes cost savings and increases in productivity.


Hanway concluded: “I think it’s fair to say a lot of work needs to be done so that businesses in Northern Ireland can take full advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead. Virgin Media Business is committed to assisting companies and entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland in their efforts to make the most of digital opportunities now and in the future.”

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Notes to Editors:

*Oxford Economics Report -
**Amarach Research (report commissioned by Virgin Media and can be supplied on request)


About Virgin Media

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. We’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises by the end of 2019.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business, we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company, with operations in more than 30 countries.