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Merged Broadband and Mobile Giant Virgin Media O2 Launches

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 (8:09 am) - Score 32,904
Following the completion of the UK’s largest ever telecoms deal, the Virgin Media O2 logo is forged to celebrate the birth of the new company which brings together Virgin Media, the UK’s fastest broadband provider, and O2, the country’s favourite mobile network with a mission to upgrade the UK.Copyright: © Mikael Buck Credit: Mikael Buck / Virgin Media O2PR Handout – for use in conjunction with this story only.

Following last month’s approval by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the full completion of its £31bn merger, a “new” UK company called Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) was officially launched today that has combined the fixed line broadband, phone, TV and mobile network businesses from both operators.

The announcement confirms everything that we’ve already reported (here) and so doesn’t add much in the way of new information, except for confirming that the new branding will retain the name of both operators as part of their 50:50 Joint Venture.

NOTE: By the end of this year, the new joint business will have created almost 2000 new UK roles and will also create 1,000 apprenticeships.

The new business instantly becomes one of the UK’s largest, with 47 million customers (broadband, mobile, TV and phone), 430 retail stores and 18,000 employees, as well as reported equivalent revenues of £11bn last year. The new company has once again reiterated its plan to take on BT (EE) and “upgrade the UK” through a £10bn investment (capex) in fibre and 5G infrastructure over the next 5-years.

Building on the success of its existing fibre network expansion activity, the business is planning to go further and faster by deploying fibre to millions of additional homes across the country. A variety of options, including potential partnerships, are currently being worked on to achieve this,” said VMO2’s statement.

The new statement is fairly light on detail, although they’d previously talked about a plan to expand their gigabit-capable broadband network (via FTTP) to reach an extra 1 million premises “within 12 months of the merger closing” (total of c.16 million) and held an “ambition” to then connect a further 7 million homes. Meanwhile, their 5G rollout is expected to be available in c.200 UK cities and towns by the end of June 2021.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of VMO2, said:

“With the fastest broadband and most reliable mobile network in the UK today, Virgin Media O2 is the complete package.

We are ready to shake up the market and be the competitor the country needs at a time when choice has never been more important. Through investment and innovation in cutting-edge infrastructure and future technology, we will connect more people to the things they love, support communities across the country, help businesses to grow, and power the UK economy.

With no limit to our ambition, we’re here to upgrade the UK – and our mission starts today.”

As we’ve said before, O2’s mobile network will not be able to take over on the Virgin Mobile side immediately because Virgin Media had already signed a new MVNO deal to swap from EE to Vodafone – that agreement will need to run its course for the next few years. However, this has some benefits as it often takes several years to develop fully converged solutions, much as BT and EE showed with their merger a few years ago.

In terms of their fixed line expansion, Lutz Schüler has also made no secret of his desire to take on Openreach at the wholesale level, which could open their broadband network up to rival ISPs (e.g. Sky Broadband). However, it remains to be seen precisely how this ends up being structured, such as whether they only wholesale the newer FTTP part of their network or their existing Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) side too.

Openreach are of course now planning to deploy FTTP out to 25 million premises by December 2026 (currently at 4.8 million), so they’ll catch up eventually. But in the meantime, VMO2’s gigabit-capable network is already available to well over 15 million homes and that will thus be very attractive to other ISPs at wholesale.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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33 Responses
  1. Michael V says:

    Exciting times ahead!
    Wonder how much that big sign cost!!!

  2. Shaukat says:

    Surprisingly they kept the virgin media name, and continue to paying royalties to the bearded one for use of it. Maybe the merger was an ideal moment to change the name to something creative like consignia :-):-D

    What ever the name, they company needs to improve on their customer and technical service provision.

    1. Gareth says:

      Lol I’d forgot about that one!

    2. Damien says:

      Considering that crashed and burned in 2002.. Maybe not? (good old Internet back in the good old internet days)

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2002480.stm

    3. Damien says:

      Didn’t work for the Post Office did it – so..?

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1969125.stm

    4. Andrew m costen says:

      I think they have 30 year lease with the virginmedia brand

    5. Rich Evans says:

      Maybe a great merger but it combines two very poor customer service backgrounds. Virgin Media is the worst I have ever experienced. Combine this with the ugly and bulky hardware that gets nailed into your home in some of the most inconvenient places too. Want a decent deal then you have to be a new customer, so really poor loyalty as well, you can get reasonable renewals but hoops have to be jumped through and oh yes back to contacting customer service again, good luck with that.

    6. Brett says:

      Spot on Rich Evans! VM probably the worst at customer service and this won’t help their worst part of their business. They just couldn’t care and when you get through don’t seem half bothered. Branson lending his brand here should also get involved in their customer experience, it’s appalling.

  3. Zakir says:

    Thats good news hope they also focus on getting fibre to social housing tower blocks etc…

  4. john says:

    Recently got Virgin FTTP cabled in my street. Surprisingly there was essentially no roadworks or cabinets installed, as all done via Openreach ducts using PIA and then routed back to an existing Virgin cabinet around a mile away.

    Can get Gigabit speeds if I sign up, but put off with lack of upload speed and no IPv6. Supposedly BT FTTP and Cityfibre on the horizon for my street at some point so trying to wait it out and not give in. Can only get a painful 40 meg on FTTC at the moment.

  5. Irfan says:

    I wish VM and other FTTP would be in my street and on my side of street. Houses opposite to me get better speeds. Contacted Openreach about it and they are not keen to do anything.

    1. Damien says:

      I can’t get G.fast – I can’t get VM all I can get is FTTC so I have 3 lines bonded just to get 70mbps and it’s £130 a month!

      I feel you

  6. Sam says:

    Id be happy with 5G to be honest.

  7. Me says:

    Wow, they must have spent a few grand with a marketing firm to come up with that name…

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Reminds me of the guy at Pixar who’s job it is to name films who gets paid $700k a year, and got a $300k bonus for coming up with “Cars”

  8. Yeehaa says:

    As the old saying goes: The proof is in the pudding”

    I really hope that they’ll be improvements with customer service on the Virgin Media side of the business. Truly one of the worst I’ve ever dealt with. If I had other options I’d ditch them. The annoying thing is that the actual product I receive from them is excellent. I think I’ve only ever had 10-15 issues with the broadband going down in 20 years and even then, it would be only for a few hours before everything was working again.

    If they can sort out the Customer Services i.e. have better communication between the call centre staff and workers on the ground that would be a start. Training the call centre staff to be more tech savvy with issues wouldn’t go amiss. Finally, bring back the call centres back to the UK, instead of outsourcing it abroad!

    1. Dgo says:

      @Yeehaa majority of the employees on faults currently are all retentions or Care agents who have never dealt with faults before but the training in Virgin is “follow the tool, anything else is non compliant” So if the system says your service is fine, even if it isn’t. That agent can’t do anything as it’s marked as non compliant. It’s a shit and why I left working for them!

  9. Mark says:

    “With no limit to our ambition, we’re here to upgrade the UK – and our mission starts today.”
    Great news does that mean you’ll finally upgrade your 2G only masts? Edge really isn’t 2021 things have moved on, sadly nothing will happen, being in the minority isn’t that appealing.

    1. Connor says:

      Or horrendous capacity issues. My girlfriend can barely use her O2 SIM anywhere round the local area.

  10. John Blackman says:

    Like to make a big thing about being the fastest provider but never mention they are not interested in cabling rural areas so maybe an all singing all dancing company but they are no a universal provider.

  11. Roger_Gooner says:

    There’s a YouTube video which provides the sort of detailed information you’d expect from a corporate launch like this.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEnhsOl_Hzs

  12. ThePotato says:

    From the Liberty Global site:

    “While there is no change to existing services today, plans are well underway to offer seamless broadband, entertainment and mobile services all in one place, under one roof, later this year.”

    Maybe a change of (consumer / business-facing) name. Maybe not. I don’t think I have seen this aspect anywhere else though.

  13. N/a says:

    @damien, be cheaper in the long run to pay for a gigabit leased line!

  14. Stephen says:

    They promised regulators there wouldn’t be any price rises in order to get the deal to go through. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows they were lying.

  15. Optimist says:

    Will they migrate their mobile customers from the EE and Vodaphone networks to O2’s?

    1. Stephen Wakeman says:

      Did you actually read the article?

  16. Chris Drake says:

    Didn’t O2 sell they broadband side of things to sky a few years ago

    1. Stephen Wakeman says:

      VM don’t have their own mobile infrastructure. O2 don’t have their own fixed line infrastructure. Hence merger benefit as the merged entity has both.

  17. Lee says:

    Will they start to allow other providers to use the virgin fibre like Sky? I heard a romour that it my be part of the agreement to allow the merger?

  18. Francis says:

    No doubt Virgin Media areas will give mast backhaul to sites since it will be cheaper for them going to openreach for a 10G lease line on 5G sites.

  19. Paul says:

    Applied to virgin mobile to see what services I could receive about 10 times , same old answer we will get back to you in a fortnight 10pmtjs later still no response I have been with O2 for 20 years think I might be looking for a new mobile provider In September

  20. Barry Evans says:

    VM customer service is awful. 02 is one of the best IMO. I am currently on BT ADSL2 as only fibre I can get is VM and I am not going back there! Luckily Openreach are just doing the survey work prior to connecting us to FTTP so should be able to get FTTP from BT later this year. Also Cityfibre due to connect our street to their FTTP network next year. Choice is finally coming to Plymouth!

  21. John says:

    Hi
    Anyone know if FTTP or virgin will be available in Warrington WA5
    We have Virgin in our close but our house is not connected when I’ve contacted them, tell me it’s over budget to install.

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