Virgin Media suspends four employees after Project Lightning miscalculation

Virgin Media has suspended four employees as it grapples with the fall-out from misreporting of its Project Lightning broadband rollout.

The operator is conducting an investigation after a review found that the number of premises connected to high-speed broadband had been overstated.

In its Q4 results release the company had reported that 1.4 million premises had been added to its network during the 2016 calendar year.

Some of these premises had been classified as essentially complete but requiring power, headend capacity upgrades or physical connection activities. These were called ‘inactive premises’.

However, Virgin Media discovered that the status of a "substantial" number of these inactive premises had been misrepresented, making the total much lower than previously believed.

It did not confirm exactly how many premises were affected, nor the names of the four executives who have been suspended.

Project Lightning aims to increase Virgin Media's broadband footprint by four million premises by 2019.

The company said in a regulatory filing that several steps had been taken to strengthen Project Lightning moving forward, including the appointment of Robert Evans as Managing Director of Lightning and a new management team for the project.

They also included providing additional resources to managing the volumes of construction and planning activity.

Virgin Media said that it had announced a new senior management position, with Dana Strong to serve as President and Chief Operating Officer. Her role will include responsibility for installations, customer care, product development and marketing.

The company has also changed its reporting structure, with the inactive premises no longer to be included in the active premises figures.

Virgin Media said, however, that no changes would be made to its consolidated financial statements as a result of the revisions.

The UK broadband provider and Liberty Global’s other European opcos have been a major driver of recent growth in sales of services.

Virgin Media recently announced it would make 100MBps the standard for its UK customers.

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