Virgin plans mobile service for businesses

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CABLE telecoms and television group Virgin Media is understood to be gearing up to launch a mobile phone service for business users.

The firm, which recently agreed to a $23.3 billion takeover approach from US cable giant Liberty Global, has about 1.7 million mobile customers and has hinted at an “important” development in the coming weeks.

Tony Grace, chief operating officer of Virgin Media Business, said the firm currently offers business users fixed-line telecoms and broadband, and also provides infrastructure for 4G operator EE.

He declined to elaborate on the plans, but told Scotland on Sunday: “I’m very hopeful that in the next couple of weeks we’ll be making an important announcement about our place in the mobile market.”

Grace was speaking ahead of an event in Edinburgh this month that aims to bring together business owners to discuss the importance of embracing new technology.

He said: “Tech-savvy entrepreneurs realise that they need to have technology right at the forefront of their business, especially around how they engage with customers, that can really extend their market.

“No matter where you are, you can now reach the rest of the UK and even the world with whatever product or service you have to offer.”

Among those taking part in the event – to be held at capital’s Summerhall arts centre on 30 April – will be Sam Zawadzki, co-founder of Edinburgh-based property management firm AdvancetoGo, who this year became the ambassador in Scotland for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Media Pioneers scheme.

Zawadzki said: “It’s up to the Scots of today to lead the next economic revolution by harnessing the power of the internet to change the world.”

Virgin Media has teamed up with rival Cable & Wireless for a joint bid to run the Scottish Wide Area Network (Swan), which aims to create a single network for the use of all public service organisations across the country.

The Scottish Government is to announce the winning bidder this autumn, with Swan to go live next April.

The group is due to publish its first-quarter results on Wednesday.