Virgin Media plans to move all its home broadband customers onto the Google Mail platform, the company said on Wednesday.
Google's Web-based e-mail service is known as Google Mail in the UK and Germany, and Gmail in the rest of the world.
According to the Internet service provider, the Web-mail rollout will extend to all of its 4 million home broadband customers, but there will be a delay before it reaches everybody. While the customers will be moved off Virgin Media's existing e-mail platform, they will be able to retain their existing e-mail addresses.
The company said the rollout will be one of the largest deployments to date of Google Partner Edition Apps, which lets businesses and individual customers use Google's communication and collaboration applications under their own domain names.
"New customers signing up will get it now and we will start to roll it out to all our customers but it will take time for everyone to get it," a spokesperson for Virgin Media told ZDNet UK.
The service, which will provide each user with 7GB of e-mail storage, will be piloted by the first 20,000 new customers, Virgin Media said in a statement. The full launch to all new customers will follow "shortly," the company said, after which existing customers will be migrated across to the new service. They will be able to keep their existing @blueyonder.co.uk, @ntlworld.com, or @virgin.net e-mail addresses, or sign up for new @virginmedia.com e-mail addresses.
Although business users will have the same access, the spokesperson stressed that the launch today was aimed mainly at the consumer sector. "Business users will of course have access if they want it, but we have different services for them," the spokesperson said.
In October last year, Virgin Media's e-mail service was knocked out of action for two days by a suspected spam attack on the ISP's e-mail supplier, Tucows. At the time, Elliot Noss, president and chief executive of Tucows, apologized to Virgin Media and other customers, saying his company would be making changes to its "monitoring, change management, emergency protocols and procedures and operating efficiencies."
Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.