NTL Group Ltd (ntl)
Summary of main activities
NTL Group Ltd is the UK operating subsidiary of US
Following the parent company's acquisition of the residential and cable business of Cable & Wireless
Communications plc, completed in May 2000
, NTL is now the UK's largest cable operator
and its second-largest fixed telephony
In addition, it develops and provides services for telecoms and broadcasting
customers, including TV and radio transmission, radio communication networks, national digital voice
NTL Group Ltd consolidates the six former CableTel regional cable TV franchises and the seven cable TV franchises acquired in 1998 and 1999 by different members of the NTL group of companies from Comcast UK, ComTel and Diamond Cable, all of which have ceased to be separate legal entities.
NTL Group Ltd has a number of operating divisions:
NTL Carrier Services
NTL Internet and
NTL Broadcast provides TV and radio transmission and broadcast services throughout the UK.
NTL Carrier Services operates a national digital telecoms network and offers mobile radio communications, visual communications, satellite uplinking and online data back-up and retrieval.
NTL Internet provides Internet access services.
NTL Telecommunications, the newest subsidiary, was formed in late 1997 to promote the services offered by NTL to the UK business sector.
The worldwide group of NTL companies, including operations in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, France and Ireland, had over 16 000 employees at July 2000.
Parent company NTL Inc.'s group revenues, rose from $747.02 million in 1998 to $1.58 billion in 1999, as a result of acquisitions and customer growth.
These revenues included $834.34 million from residential telecoms and cable TV services and $547.9 million from national and international telecoms services.
The net results were affected by substantial increases in NTL's costs, owing to its rapidly growing customer base.
Capital expenditure grew from $772.14 million in 1998 to $1.21 billion in 1999
The company has raised substantial funds from both the capital markets and major corporate investors to finance its investments in infrastructure and services, and its acquisitions.
In total, NTL raised over $2.7 billion in the capital markets in 1998.
In January 1999, Microsoft agreed to an investment of £500 million in NTL to promote the development of high-speed voice, data and video services in its cable networks.
In July 1999, it was announced that parent company NTL Inc. would acquire the residential cable TV, telephony and Internet operations of Cable & Wireless Communications plc., for a total of around £6.3 billion plus around £1.9 billion in debt.
As part of the deal, France Telecom agreed to invest $5.5 billion for a stake of up to 25% in NTL, including an initial $1 billion investment announced earlier in July 1999.
The company is investing IEP12 million during 2000 and 2001 in branding its name as the replacement for Cablelink in Ireland. It will in addition launch bundled services towards the end of 2000.
NTL is quoted on the EASDAQ and NASDAQ stock exchanges.
Local fixed telecoms
NTL provides telecoms services to residential and SME customers in all its UK cable franchises.
At the end of the first half of 2000, the number of residential cable telephony customers was 4.5 million
At the end of September, the operator reported it had a total of 1.71 million customers, including Cablelink customers and subscribers on the former BT networks.
Of these customers, 1.17 million subscribed to a fixed telephony service.
NTL provides mobile radio services to public service and commercial customers.
At the end of 1999, NTL reported 625 000 Internet customers.
This had increased to 1.3 million by the end of the first half of 2000.
It also carries a substantial volume of Internet traffic generated by its ISP customers.
At the end of April 1999, the operator launched the UK's first cable-modem Internet access service.
Roll-out of the service is reported to have been slower than originally expected, although no precise figures have been released
. By June 2000, it was available in parts of Cambridge, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire and Surrey.
The operator also launched a fully unmetered conventional dial-up Internet access service in April 2000.
Including CWC and Cablecom, NTL had 915 000 direct Internet customers at the end of 1999.
By the end of 1999, after acquisitions completed during the year, the company had 1.42 million ]cable TV
Content services - non-Internet
The operator launched interactive digital TV combined with Internet access via the set-top box to a selection of franchise areas in July 2000.
In November 1999, CWC began offering its digital TV customers in Manchester and the north-west of England access to up to 100 interactive entertainment, information and shopping sites, as well as online customer service and email.
From early 2000, the operator intended to expand this offering to include home banking, interactive games and TV services.
The service is now being rolled out in London and the south-east.
Major corporate customers
NTL's major corporate clients include:
Civil Aviation Authority
HM Coast Guard
Turner Broadcasting System
United Artists Entertainment
University of Cambridge
University of Oxford
Marketing and sales channels
In June and July 1999, NTL carried out a £40 million marketing campaign.
This involved extensive billboard, press, radio and TV advertising designed to raise awareness of the NTL brand (including a new lower-case logo) and prepare customers for the imminent launch of a bundled package of digital cable TV, high-speed Internet, interactive and telephony services.
Local access networks
NTL provides its own direct access connections between its network and the main sites of client organisations. In its local distribution networks, NTL employs fibre augmented with more 'Siamese' copper and coaxial cable for local delivery.
Where possible, the company plans to install wireless radio access links, and use the local distribution networks of its cable subsidiaries.
These cable networks, together with the Cablelink systems in Ireland and the networks acquired from BT in London and Milton Keynes, passed 4.26 million homes by the end of September 1999.
NTL's core network comprises 100% fibre-optic cable with SDH architecture.
The backbone network has approximately 3500km of national and 6000km of regional fibre-optic cable, with 48 fibre strands per duct, offering connections to almost all international submarine cable points.
The network employs a ring topology and offers a typical link capacity of 34Mbit/s, but speeds of up to 155Mbit/s (STM-16) are offered. Transmission and signalling standards supported include CCiTT#7, Q.931, DPNSS, DASSII, G.703 and IP.
The group's cable franchises have been connected up to the national network via switches into NTL's national backbone network.
The network coverage is nationwide, connecting most major cities in the UK from Winchester to Leeds, and Cardiff and Bristol to Leicester, with additional long-haul circuits connecting Birmingham, London and Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and York.
In 1998, the company installed ATM switches in nine cities throughout the UK.
The network links more than 600 NTL-owned transmitter sites, and more than 1500 sites owned by client organisations.
By the end of 1999, NTL had invested over $6.5 billion (GBP4 billion) in its International, national and local networks.
NTL extended its network from Great Britain into the Republic of Ireland (Dublin) and Northern Ireland (Belfast) during the first half of 1998.
Dublin and Belfast were linked together to complete the ring, and fibre was extended to Land's End (England) to meet the international cables.
The operator also has a stake in a transatlantic cable to the USA, and connectivity to the Asia-Pacific region is provided by satellite links.
Access to wayleaves
All of NTL's long-distance fixed and radio links are self-provided, as are all local fixed and radio links for access to the NTL core network. Local access links are provided using 10GHz radio access technology, or over cable TV networks.
Major equipment suppliers
Network Computer - an affiliate of Oracle and Netscape (enabling technology for interactive TV service)
Public switched telephony
NTL provides national and international voice telephony services. It also offers Centrex and VPN services.
NTL's cable subsidiaries provide local business and residential telephony services
. A unified national long-distance call tariff is offered, with separate daytime, off-peak and weekend rates.
The operator also provides interconnect and wholesale switched telephony services to other carriers and resellers.
Business network services
NTL operates digital leased circuits at speeds of 2Mbit/s, 8Mbit/s, 34Mbit/s, 45Mbit/s, 140Mbit/s and 155Mbit/s (STM-16) for voice, data, video and LAN interconnection via frame relay and ATM. It provides fibre and/or radio local-end provision.
NTL's Access Links service provides dedicated 2Mbit/s to 155Mbit/s data, video and voice point-to-point links and networks.
NTL offers managed bandwidth services for data, voice and video over a variety of network configurations (dedicated networks, international connections and point-to-point circuits), including managed WAN solutions, ATM and frame-relay connectivity and detailed management information.
The company began trials of ADSL-based LAN interconnect and remote LAN dial-up services in Guildford and Woking in November 1999.
IN and value-added services
NTL's cable franchises offer the standard range of value-added services, including call waiting, call barring, three-way calling, Internet access and solutions to business customers, and residential Internet access. < P/>
NTL provides a comprehensive range of Internet services to residential and business subscribers, as well as wholesale services to ISPs.
Internet access options include TV set-top-box access via the telephone line; unmetered dial-up Internet access; and cable-modem Internet access (in limited areas).
Services are offered as part of a bundled subscription package including analogue or digital TV and telephony.
Analogue cable TV is available in all franchises, and digital cable TV services (NTL Digital Plus) were launched in selected franchises in May 2000.
The service is offered as part of a bundled package also including unmetered Internet access and telephony for a monthly subscription fee.
NTL owns and operates three satellite teleports in the UK, uplinking digital feeds for broadcasters around the world. Via satellite, NTL provides video, data and telephony services to the Pacific Rim, the USA and states in the CIS.
Content services - non-Internet
At the end of March 1999, NTL launched an interactive analogue TV service, which uses a set-top box to deliver a range of TV programmes, shopping and information services provided by a number of partners including the BBC and the Tesco supermarket chain.
The company began offering the interactive service over digital cable in selected franchise areas from July 2000.
NTL also provides a pay-per-view film service (Front Row), offering the facility for the customer to order films using the remote control.
Bartley Wood Business Park
Sourves: www.bt.com, ntl.com and www.excite.com