Virgin Media O2 joint-venture to connect five million more homes to fibre by 2026

Virgin Media O2
(Image credit: Virgin Media O2)

Virgin Media O2 and investment firm InfraVia Capital Partners have finalised plans for a £4.5 billion fibre joint-venture that will serve up to seven million homes and businesses across the UK.

The company’s upgrade programme means every single one of the 15.5 million homes and businesses served by its cable network can now access broadband speeds of 1Gbps, while there are plans to connect another 500,000 in 2022.

This new network will target properties not covered by Virgin Media O2 or its planned expansion programme. Initially, five million properties will be connected by 2026 with scope to reach an additional two million if the conditions are right.  

Virgin Media O2 joint-venture

Virgin Media O2 will serve as an anchor tenant for the new network, expanding its reach to up to 23 million households, or 80% of the UK population, boosting its efforts to become a converged challenger to BT.

The new network will be opened up to other operators, creating a national competitor to Openreach’s wholesale business.

“This multi-billion pound investment is a vote of confidence in Britain that will take Virgin Media O2’s fibre footprint to 80% of the UK, boosting our position as the biggest challenger in the market,” said Lutz Schüler, Virgin Media CEO.

“Virgin Media O2 will play a crucial role by providing extensive build talent and expertise to the new venture, as well as being a major wholesale customer which fuels fantastic expansion economics from the get-go. 

"Alongside our existing gigabit network, other operators will be presented with a sizeable and attractive wholesale opportunity that will enhance competition and choice like never before.”

“We are excited to be partnering with Virgin Media O2, Liberty Global and Telefónica,” added Vincent Levita, CEO and founder of InfraVia. “The combination of our respective expertise in fibre network deployment, financing and operations in the UK, together with Virgin Media O2’s industrial scale and network construction know-how will be key to creating the undisputed second national fibre network in the UK providing access to broadband connectivity to millions of UK households.

“InfraVia has been a leading investor in digital infrastructure for the past decade. Attracted by the long-term trends of ever-increasing data usage and increased need for home connectivity, this would represent our 5th investment in fibre network deployment in Europe through strategic partnerships.”

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.