Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world and one of the faces of Virgin Media's recent marketing drive, helped Richard Branson's superfast broadband service race ahead with an extra 146,700 customers in the first quarter.

Financial performance in the first three months of the year was in line with expectations for the New York-listed telecommunications giant, which offers internet, mobile phone, and television services.

"In the first quarter of 2012, we've made steady progress against our strategy. Demand for superfast broadband and TiVo, the UK's first mass-market connected TV service, continued to gather momentum," Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, said.

"We once again demonstrated the unique power of our network by starting to double the broadband speeds of over four million customers."

Charismatic Jamaican sprinter Bolt has appeared in a series of television, radio, and billboard adverts promoting the Virgin Media brand's superfast broadband service.

Since the marketing push, the number of Virgin's superfast broadband customers has grown by 146,700 to 843,600.

Despite this, broadband business revenues were down marginallyl on the year to £3.77m from £3.79m.

Virgin Media's total revenues, however, were up 2.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the previous year, to £1bn, and its operating income was up 18 percent, to £131m.

Berkett said he expected the company's "steady progress" to continue through 2012 which "will translate into strong cash flow and shareholder returns".

Virgin Media shares closed up in New York at 23.84, after opening at 23.77 on 24 April.