Virgin has launched Virgin Media Business, an internet service for businesses across the UK that is a revamped version of its ntl:Telewest Business.

Virgin Media Business hopes to compete with BT by offering a personalised service to both mid-market enterprises and the public sector. The company claims it will offer clients access to their own regionally-based account team to manage their fibre optic broadband needs. BT Global Services yesterday announced it had won a three-year extension to its deal with the Department for Work and Pensions worth at least £237 million.

Neil Berkett, chief executive officer of Virgin Media, said: "Our next generation consumer services, in broadband and video on demand, are unrivalled in speed and quality of service.

At a media event to launch the brand, Virgin said its business division would benefit from Virgin's investment in high speed fibre optive network, while the brand would benefit from a “halo effect” of the Virgin label. Virgin Media's network asset is the only national next generation network in the UK.

Mark Heraghty, managing director of Virgin Media Business, said: “Our main goal is to grow the company, but we can only do that if the market likes what it sees. We’ve got to be better than anyone else.”

Heraghty highlighted the company’s experience of providing “cutting-edge” networks to councils, for example in a £90m contract with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership (HIOW) and in providing resilient infrastructure to 60 percent of police forces in the country.

Virgin Media Business plans to expand its Ethernet portfolio, which already offers everything from simple point-to-point Ethernet circuits for the Metropolitan area through to national point-to-point and point-to-multipoint Ethernet services as well as any-to-any Ethernet VPNs.

It is also promising an enhanced customer portal offering better fault and order management, online billing and performance management and, ultimately, customer self-provisioning.