In the UK the company provides digital cable TV services, dial-up and broadband internet services to homes as NTL Home and mixed voice, data and internet services to businesses as NTL Business. The company has around 2.7 million customers
NTL was founded in 1993 as CableTel by Barclay Knapp and George Blumenthal, the founders of the cellular network company Cellular Communications, Inc (sold to Airtouch in 1996). CableTel was founded to take advantge of the deregulation of the UK cable business. Franchises were acquired covering the London area and parts of Scotland and Wales. In 1998 the business was renamed NTL. The company spent heavily on both expanding its network and acquiring rivals. Its UK network is built of a 7,800km fibre backbone and has the potential to reach 8.4 million residential homes and around 600,000 businesses. The company began to expand outside of the UK in 2000, buying into markets on continental Europe and also in Ireland.
The collapse of the telecommunications markets from mid-2000 was a serious blow to the company. Devalued and struggling with debts of around $18bn NTL was forced to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2002 in order to organise a refinancing deal. The company did not emerge from protection until January 2003, having converted around $11bn of debt into shares in what was, technically, the largest debt default in US corporate history. the company's debt was reduced to $6.4bn. NTL itself was reorganised into NTL Inc. covering the UK and Irish markets and NTL Europe Inc. for the French, Swiss and German parts of the business. To the surprise of many the NTL president and CEO, Barclay Knapp, remained in charge while Stephen Carter, the MD and COO, was pushed in November 2002. Carter is the current (2003) chief executive of OFCOM.
In 2002, Many websites had been created to provide a customer care base for people who had encountered unfortuate situations with the company, such as ntl:hell. NTL launched its own brand in late 2003, Ntl: Community.