NTL completes takeover of Virgin Mobile

As it acquires right to rebrand under Virgin name, cable operator gains ability to offer "quadruple play."

Cable operator NTL Group has completed its takeover of Virgin Mobile, creating the United Kingdom's first "quadruple play" telecommunications operator.

The two companies announced on Tuesday morning that NTL will pay a total of $1.66 billion (962.4 million pounds) for Virgin Mobile. NTL had previously offered $1.5 billion for the company, which was rejected by Virgin Group.

The deal means that NTL--which merged with fellow cable operator Telewest in April--can provide mobile-phone services to its customers alongside its existing fixed-line telephony, broadband and cable television offerings. NTL believes this quadruple play will help swell its income, especially if its customers decide they want to buy all their telecommunications services from one provider.

The deal "enhances NTL as a scale competitor in the U.K. telecommunications industry, enabling it to become the first market participant offering an integrated quad-play product suite, combining NTL's network, products and triple-play experience together with Virgin Mobile's national mobile business, creating a national communications and entertainment company," NTL said in a statement released Tuesday.

NTL will also have the right to rebrand itself under the Virgin name.

"NTL believes that the Virgin brand would bring it a strong consumer appeal, positioning and customer focus to a quad-play offering. It would allow NTL to utilize Virgin's brand expertise and consumer focus, and should help increase customer loyalty and appeal," said the cable operator, pointing to a recent survey, which found that Virgin is the most admired brand in the U.K.

In contrast, NTL has been dogged by persistent customer complaints about its service, with some disgruntled users dubbing it "NTHell."

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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