Virgin Media O2 holds talks with external investors over full fibre venture

Virgin Media O2
(Image credit: Virgin Media O2)

The parent companies of Virgin Media O2 are reportedly seeking external investors to help fund the rollout of full fibre infrastructure to as many as seven million properties currently unserved by its cable network.

Liberty Global and Telefonica merged their UK assets in a £31 billion transaction last year and every one of the 15.5 million homes and businesses served by its cable network can now access broadband speeds of 1Gbps.

The company plans to upgrade its entire infrastructure to fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology by 2028 but multiple reports suggest it wants to go even further. Indeed, prior to the merger both Virgin Media and O2 promised to invest £10 billion in the combined business over the next five years.

Virgin Media O2 upgrade

However, the company has little appetite to do so alone and has opened discussions with third parties who might welcome a long-term project with guaranteed returns.

While mobile and broadband operator have sought to spin off or divest infrastructure assets in order to raise funds for capital-intensive projects such as fibre and 5G deployment, private equity firms have been keener to play the long game. However given Sky has been previously linked with an investment, it's also possible that another telco could get involved. 

The suggestion is that Liberty and Telefonica would create a separate infrastructure company and sell a significant stake to external investors. Other providers would be able to access the network on a wholesale basis, similar to Openreach, with Virgin Media O2 serving as the anchor tenant. Its existing network, however, would not be made available to third parties.

Virgin Media O2 declined to comment when approached by TechRadar Pro.

Via Sky News

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.