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Virgin Media O2 provides 'shot in the arm' for small businesses with upload speed boost

Virgin Media O2
(Image credit: Virgin Media O2)

Virgin Media O2 is increasing upload speeds for its fibre business broadband customers in the first major service development since the £31 billion merger.

The enlarged company says it wants to provide a boost for SMBs that have seen revenues drop during the pandemic and are now more reliant than ever on connectivity for continuity.

Cloud applications, file sharing and video conferencing have all become essential tools to support distributed workforces and to deliver services to customers who are increasingly demanding digital experiences.

Virgin Media O2 SMBs

Many of the changes witnessed during the past 18 months are likely to become permanent, placing pressure on SMBs to keep up.

Virgin Media O2 will now offer upload speeds of 20Mbps with its entry level 350Mbps download package, all the way up to 50Mbps on its fastest 500Mbps plan. Customers can also choose from various Service Level Agreement (SLA), and add Static IP options, business phone lines and 4G back up.

Jo Bertram, Virgin Media O2’s Managing Director for Business and Wholesale, moved over from O2 as part of the merger and says the announcement, just 15 working days after the deal was finalised, is “just the beginning” for how it plans to serve businesses going forward.

“Connectivity has never been so crucial for businesses,” she told TechRadar Pro. “95% of the UK private sector are microbusinesses and we know that small businesses are going to be critical for the economy, so we want to give them a shot in the arm.”

As the importance of connectivity grows post-pandemic, competition between various providers will intensify – especially in the SMB segment where many firms have traditionally relied on consumer services in the belief that business broadband was tailored towards larger organisations.

Virgin Media O2 believes the investments in its fixed infrastructure, along with O2’s mobile expertise and a customer-centric approach will allow it to differentiate itself from the rest of the market.

“The joint-venture will support [all types of business] and their needs so they can work whenever, wherever,” she explains. “We’re already seeing enthusiasm from our customers [about the merger].

“We are the only meaningful competitor at scale to BT-EE.”

Cross-pollination 

The full benefit of the combination will take time to materialise. Sales, product and tech teams will need to integrate and there is additional complexity – such as the coexistence of O2’s network alongside Virgin Media’s Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that uses Vodafone infrastructure.

But already, Bertram says there have been conversations on both sides about how O2’s business customers can benefit from fixed connectivity and how Virgin Media’s subscribers can gain from O2’s 4G and 5G capabilities. In addition to cross-selling, there is scope for greater fixed mobile convergence, additional services that go beyond connectivity, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

In the short term, Bertram says Virgin Media Business will continue to listen to the needs of its customer base. After all, speed boosts are likely to increase loyalty and the more of its SMB customers that stay in business, the longer they can create revenues for the company.

“Our number one focus has to be on giving a great service for customers,” says Bertram. “It’s about integrating our teams and finding the best opportunities … this announcement is a great first step.”

Steve McCaskill is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with eight years' experience. I write about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.