Telewest (former)

company_name = Telewest
company_type = Disused trading name of Virgin Media
company_slogan = Cable, if you can you should
foundation = 1984
dissolved = 2007-02-08
location = London
key_people = | industry = Communications
products = Cable television
Mobile phone

Telewest, formerly Telewest Broadband and Telewest Communications was a cable Internet, broadband internet, telephone supplier and cable television provider in the United Kingdom. On 3 March 2006 it merged with NTL to become NTL:Telewest, then on 8 February 2007 the combined company rebranded as Virgin Media.

Company history

Telewest was founded in Croydon in 1984 under the name of Croydon Cable [cite web|url=|title=ntl:Telewest Business - Company history|accessdate=2007-04-27] . In 1988 Croydon Cable was acquired by the U.S. cable company United Cable of Denver, which merged with United Artists Cable International the very next year. In 1991 United Artists merged with TCI, another U.S. cable operator. Later in 1991 TCI formed a joint venture with US West which was renamed to Telewest the next year. In 1994 Telewest was first listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 1995 Telewest merged with SBC Communications, another U.K. cable supplier. In 1998 Telewest merged with General Cable. In 1999 Telewest bought out NTL's 50% interest in Cable London. In the year 2000 Telewest merged with broadcast company Flextech. Also in 2000, Telewest bought Eurobell, a cable supplier in Devon, Sussex and Kent. In 2005 Telewest was purchased by NTL and the services were rebranded as ntl:Telewest. ntl:Telewest was further rebranded to Virgin Media after a deal which included the purchase of Virgin Mobile.

Telewest had in recent years progressed through a lot of financial problems due to the huge debts it incurred as a result of constructing its cable network and acquiring other cable companies and assets. In 2004 Telewest re-structured itself by swapping its unsecured debt for 98.5% of its shares. Shares were then consolidated and delisted from the London FTSE. Major Telewest shareholders included Huff and Liberty Media (run by cable tycoon John Malone). Since then, the company emerged from financial restructuring and completed a merger with larger rival NTL.

Residential services

On its cable network, Telewest provided several residential services including:


The majority of Telewest's television was digital. There were, however, areas that received an analogue service (Slough, Windsor and some other areas in West London). Telewest was in the process of converting the remaining analogue areas to digital and it is expected that the analogue service would cease in 2007.

The digital television service offered a number of different products including true video on demand, a PVR, and HDTV.

* On Demand: On Demand (Formerly known as Teleport) was the brand name for Telewest's video on demand (VOD) service. The On Demand service launched in 2005. In contrast to Sky Digital which, due to technical limitations, is only able to provide near-VOD services, Teleport is a true VoD system. Users could search through a large library of programmes and watch them when they want to as part of their subscription. This library includes a free 7-day watch again feature for TV programmes produced by the BBC, Channel 4 and Virgin Media Television (formerly known as Flextech). On Demand also offered movies that can be purchased and watched as many times as desired within a twenty four hour period. On Demand also offered HD content that will work in conjunction with the V+ PVR.

* HDTV Telewest was the first UK broadcaster to offer HDTV. Contrary to popular belief, Telewest's HDTV service launched several months earlier than that of their chief competitor, Sky Digital. Telewests HD service is priced significantly lower than Sky's. Sky charge a £300 setup fee and an additional £10 / month. Telewest charged a £75 setup fee and £10 month. Telewest's fees however include the TV Drive service, whereas the Sky HD service did not include their Sky+ charges. In January 2006 Telewest started to broadcast HD documentaries such as "The Blue Planet", "Planet Earth" and "Pride", through their Teleport service, and later broadcast some movies in HD. Telewest had an agreement with both ITV and the BBC and claimed to be the only provider in the UK to offer all the World Cup matches in HD. In reality however half of the final group stage matches were not available in HD. Since the world cup there have been no new HD channels added to the lineup. Telewest's HD service is provided exclusively through their TV Drive box.

* TV Drive was the name of Telewest's Digital Video Recorder (PVR) service. TV Drive product incorporates a 160 gigabyte hard drive as standard, meaning it was able to store around 80 hours of recorded programmes. This is in contrast to BSkyB's Sky+ service which currently offers only 80 gigabytes (40 hours). Similarly, Telewest's product incorporates three tuners while Sky's incorporates only two, meaning that Telewest's service could record two channels at the same time while watching a third. A few day ahead of rebranding to Virgin Media, TV Drive was renamed "V+".


Telewest's broadband and cable Internet, Blueyonder, formerly branded as cable Internet, ran on the cable internet architecture and offered speeds of 2 Mbit/s, 4 Mbit/s and 10 Mbit/s downstream. The broadband service is currently 'uncapped', meaning that use is unlimited and no extra charges are payable related to the amount of data downloaded. On 21 November 2006 The Register reported that Traffic Management was being trialled in the entire north of England and was slowly spreading [cite web|url=|title= NTL/Telewest admits limiting unlimited web access - The Register |accessdate=2007-04-27] .

Blueyonder also provided dial-up internet services on a pay as you go or fixed monthly fee of £14.99 for unlimited use.


* Talk Unlimited
* Talk Evenings and Weekends
* Talk WeekendsProviding UK landline calls for up to an hour for a fixed fee monthly inclusive of line rental. Telewest were the first UK landline company to offer 'unlimited' calls to landlines for a fixed monthly fee.

* Talk MobileUK mobile calls with 25% reduction from standard rates.

* Talk InternationalSimilar principle to Talk Mobile, with different reductions to different countries.

* Talk Anywhere200 Minutes400 Minutes800 Minutes

Telewest were the first landline company to offer a package of this kind as it includes bundled minutes every month that can be carried over to the next. Including UK Mobiles, Landlines, Businesses with 0845 and 0870 International Mobiles & Landlines.Available nationally, varying in price depending on number of minutes.


Over the years, Telewest has had a different number of strategies, with a solid corporate identity coming out in late 2005, to coincide with the 3 for £30 offer.The company had until 2007 the mascot "Ellie West" to promote its services.


External links

* [ ntl:Telewest Business home page]

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