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Three UK working with Virgin Media on backhaul contract

Written by  May 06, 2020

The Financial Times reports that Virgin Media will provide the fibre infrastructure to support the expected boom in traffic across Three’s 5G services.

Three out of four?

Vodafone signed a substantial backhaul contract with Virgin Media late last year and was already in wholesale negotiations with Telefonica’s O2 UK before O2 and Virgin Media began merger talks, which were made confirmed this week.

Should that merger go ahead, the new company would be a far stronger competitor in the UK market, and also it would mean that three out of the UK’s four mobile operators use Virgin Media’s infrastructure for 5G backhaul.

Peter Kelly, MD, Virgin Media was quoted by the FT saying that his company is the “backhaul bastion” of the country.

He reportedly described the Vodafone and Three deals as “sizeable” but gave no details of the contracts’ worth.

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Shifting market

Three uses BT, SSE and CityFibre for various other backhaul services, and shares masts with EE through an agreement signed in 2007 when they formed the joint-venture MBNL for that purpose.

As former incumbent, BT has been the dominant player in the wholesale market and merged with BT Enterprise in 2018 to address the corporate and public sector market.

That positioned is being challenged: having sold most of its continental European interests, Virgin Media prioritised wholesale to other operators, setting up a specialist division to pursue the opportunity.

To read the Financial Times report you will need to subscribe.


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Carl Bryant

Carl comes from a creative tech background in retail and telecoms, his flair and attention to detail is very important to the success of this website. Carl is a freelance journalist who shares his knowledge and experience as well as reviewing tech products for us.

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