NTL: Ahead of BT, but Losing Ground – But BT Complain to Ofcom

The newly created NTL:Telewest group could have only a brief time as Britain’s biggest broadband service provider. At the end of March 2006 NTL:Telewest, including the Virgin.net ISP, was 5% ahead of BT Retail in numbers of broadband subscribers. By the end of June the gap had narrowed to only 2.4%. If the trend is sustained, BT will once again be in lead in the broadband with a market share over 25% – roughly 3 million subscribers in total – by the end of the year.

At the same time industry regulator Ofcom has received a complaint from BT saying that ISP Unicom is acting unfairly in contacting their customers that have indicated a desire to move away to BT for provision of Broadband.

This would seem to have all the marks of a ‘Pot Calling Kettle Black’ after BT whinged when Carphone Warehouse made a similar complaint about BT earlier this year.


The Broadband figures come from Point Topic’s latest report UK ISP market shares to Q206. The research shows that the NTL group (NTL, Telewest & Virgin) has grown by only 3.1% this quarter, below the market average and significantly below its growth of 10.3% in Q405.

The declining share of the market is partly attributable to NTL:Telewest’s limited geographical coverage. As DSL reaches more remote and lower-density markets, cable’s share of the total is bound to suffer. The NTL part of the group has shown particularly slow growth, adding only 1.9% in net new subscribers for the quarter.

Meanwhile, BT succeeded in increasing its broadband market share for the fourth successive quarter, up to 24.3% from its low point of 22.4% in September 2005.

“While its competitors have been distracted by consolidation and the transfer to local loop unbundling, BT has been able to focus on straightforward marketing and the strength of its brand to grow more rapidly than them”, points out Tim Johnson, Chief Executive of Point Topic. “Once again, it illustrates the inherent difficulty of competing against the incumbent in this type of market”.

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