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Virgin Media O2 Add 114,000 New Premises to UK FTTP Coverage

Thursday, Jul 28th, 2022 (8:32 am) - Score 6,856
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Broadband ISP and mobile operator Virgin Media and O2 (VMO2) have published their joint Q2 2022 results, which saw fixed broadband reach 5,612,000 customers (up by 16,000 in Q2 2022 vs -1K in Q1) and their FTTP coverage reach another 114,000 premises. The fixed line network now covers 15.9m premises (54% of UK).

Except for their alleged interest in gobbling rival ISP TalkTalk for £3bn (here), it’s been a fairly quiet quarter for VMO2, but they did make some key announcements. Firstly, Virgin Media Business (VMO2) finally launched a new range of faster broadband plans up to 1Gbps (here), while O2 announced that their growing network of 4G and 5G mobile small cells would be expanded outside London (here). Speaking of mobile, O2 has finally joined the new mobile network on the London Underground (here).

In terms of the operator’s 5G coverage, O2 said today that they expect their new network to be available in more than 600 locations (towns and cities) and are on-track to reach 50% of the UK population by 2023. But this still puts them well behind rivals EE and Three UK, which have both already blown past the 50% mark, although they did start their rollout much later than EE.

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Quarterly UK Customer (Connection) Figures – Q2 2022
5,612,000 Fixed Broadband – (up from 5,595,800 in Q1)
43,526,400 Mobile inc. Wholesale – (up from 42,721,500)

Meanwhile, the Project Lightning network expansion has so far reached an additional 2.9 million premises since it began some years ago (c.1.6 million via FTTP and the rest as Hybrid Fibre Coax), and their quarterly pace of build is continuing to recover from last year’s slump. Virgin’s fixed network covers a total of 15.863 million UK homes passed (during 2022 they expect to add a total of 500,000 premises under Project Lightning).

Project Lightning Rollout Since 2017
Q2 2022 = 114,000 Premises
Q1 2022 = 101,000 Premises
Q4 2021 = 93,000 Premises
Q3 2021 = 67,000 Premises
Q2 2021 = 89,000 Premises
Q1 2021 = 80,000 Premises (impacted by COVID-19 lockdown)
Q4 2020 = 115,000 Premises (some impact from COVID-19)
Q3 2020 = 125,000 Premises
Q2 2020 = 93,000 Premises (impacted by COVID-19 lockdown)
Q1 2020 = 93,000 Premises (some impact from COVID-19)
Q4 2019 = 154,000 Premises
Q3 2019 = 119,000 Premises
Q2 2019 = 130,000 Premises
Q1 2019 = 102,000 Premises

NOTE 1: Between Q1 2017 and Q4 2018 Virgin added 1,017,000 premises under Project Lightning, which works out as an average of 127,125 per quarter.

On the financial front, VMO2 reported total transaction adjusted revenue of £2,548.5 in Q2 2022, which is up from £2,500.1m last quarter.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said:

“It’s one year on since Virgin Media O2 was born and, while we’ve got much more to do, we came out of the gate running and achieved a huge amount in our first year as a joint business. Our mission has been to upgrade the UK and be the biggest challenger in the market, and we’ve continued to do just that.

In Q2, we’ve grown our fixed and mobile customer base once again, as fast and reliable connectivity remains a top priority for consumers and businesses. We’ve seen an improved revenue performance alongside our best quarterly profitability growth since we merged, putting us in solid shape to meet our full year guidance. The launch of our Virgin Media O2 sustainability strategy was also a major highlight in the quarter, and we will back up our bold commitments on carbon, circular economy and communities with real action.

As we navigate a tougher economic environment and provide our customers with great value and targeted support, we have clarity and focus on three growth waves that will drive sustained commercial momentum. Firstly, our integration is firmly on track, our synergies are being realised and we’re innovating at pace with convergence at our core; secondly, we’re moving forward our digitalisation plans to improve our existing operations and build future foundations; and thirdly we’re investing heavily to expand and upgrade our fibre and 5G networks to bring top-class connectivity to more of the country.

While I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in just one year, nobody in the business is complacent, and we remain focused to deliver even more.”

However, there were no new updates this time on VMO2’s Project Mustang, which reflects their ongoing work to upgrade 14.3 million UK premises covered by their older HFC infrastructure with the latest 10Gbps capable XGS-PON full fibre (FTTP) technology (here and here) – at a cost of £100 per home. But that’s to be expected, since this will eventually be accompanied by new products, and we probably won’t see those until next year (they’ve previously done lots of 2Gbps trials on both HFC and FTTP).

Likewise, we’re still awaiting more details on their plan to build FTTP broadband to an additional 7 million UK premises – under a new entity – in new greenfield areas by 2027 (here), which will also be offered at wholesale to rival ISPs. VMO2 also has the “option” to separately wholesale out access to their existing network of 15.6 million premises (rising to 16m by the end of 2022), but they haven’t announced a decision on that yet (they’ll probably want to sort out a co-investment deal with another provider for the new FTTP build areas first, but gobbling TalkTalk might be another way to do it).

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Finally, average fixed line speed across the company’s broadband base increased 27% year-on-year to 247Mbps.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
16 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Karl Betts says:

    Still waiting for the superhub 5 so I can get the full speed I’m getting ripoff off from.

    1. Avatar photo Bart says:

      I agree

    2. Avatar photo Gary says:

      You already get the full speed! Virgin Media over provision for their benefit not yours. They advertised 1gb, you’re paying for 1Gb, you get 1gb. Nothing is being mis-sold, and you get what your were told you’d get.

    3. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      I think this is a reference to the limit from a single 1GbE ethernet port, so that you’ll only see 940Mbps or so via Speedtest on a single LAN connection.

      The fact that the router has 4 x 1 GbE ports and you can get about another 600Mbps via WiFi seems to pass some people by.

      It’s really only a (small) issue if you want to use the router in modem mode.

    4. Avatar photo Jordan says:

      Dont think you guys understand, the newer hub 5 has a 2.5gb port, so you can achieve the advertised speeds which is over 1gbps on virgin medias website. You can get over 1gb with the hub 4 and lower even if you use modem mode the ports are out of date. So hub 5 needs to be more out they instead of people waiting for emails to get them.

    5. Avatar photo Brian Toosh says:

      Do a Google search for ‘Samknows Realspeed’ and your SH4 if the client is enabled (which it should be) will tell you the speed you get down to the Modem and then the speed you get from the modem to the client device in your home.

  2. Avatar photo Duncan says:

    So expansion will continue under project lightning as well as the new greenfield site plan for new areas?

    1. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Think they’ll merge at some point but for right now Lightning is the only game in town.

      Once XGSPON is a thing the wholesale build can start properly.

  3. Avatar photo Proofy says:

    There’s a “Project Lighting” snuck in there, where, I think, “Project Lightning” was intended.

  4. Avatar photo VMO2 Incompetence department says:

    Project Lightning planners are thoroughly incompetent when they ‘survey’ an area. Several huge housing estates, vast majority only on Openreach FTTC, VMO2 choose to cover just ONE estate and disappear, ignoring the entire rest of the area.

    VMO2 are a wretched horrible arrogant company who refuse to listen to the public. They don’t bother replying to Project Lightning enquiry emails and they ignore posts on their own forum. VMO2 Staff too lazy to respond.

    A company staggeringly appalling at communication, awful at broadband and even worse at mobile with zero data throughputs at teatime. I wish so hard this company could be shamed in the national press for GOLD medal winning incompetence. It takes real talent to find staff that useless.

    Smarty/3UK just installed “5G monopoles” all over my area and CityFibre are coming.

    VMO2 and their “Project Lightning” can get stuffed, I don’t want to hear any more about it, instead, lets talk about a company that doesn’t treat potential customers like dirt.

    1. Avatar photo Tom says:

      Given my recent experience they do listen.

      I complained back in late 2019 that my street has CATV panels and NTL tap plates, but no service.

      By the 20th I should be able to get an engineer booked to install… Should Cadent not get in their way again…

      2 and a half years is poor, but considering covid, I’ll take it, especially as BT have seemingly no interest in covering my area before 2026 or whenever.

    2. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      For someone who despises them so much and thinks their services are so poor you seem awfully upset that they haven’t built their network to your estate.

      I have no idea what your correspondence with the Lightning team consisted of but they survey in a fair amount of detail.

      Not sure why you’d be upset they don’t service you given they’re ‘awful at broadband’. I can’t say I’m upset there’s no sewage works next door as I don’t want one there.

      You seem somewhat bitter because they didn’t want to build to your estate, and didn’t like the answers you received back from the Lightning team. Potentially you tried to get into a debate and they wouldn’t engage which in your mind makes them arrogant. It’s their money they’re spending to build. Not arrogant of them to decide how they spend it.

      Either their broadband and service in which case you’ve no reason to touch them with a bargepole and shouldn’t care less they haven’t rolled out to you or you want them to be available and are unhappy they neither are or wanted to engage with you on the matter. Pick one, both doesn’t work.

  5. Avatar photo Stuart says:

    I joined virgin on top volt package 1gig internet plus sky channels.. so was expecting Hub 5 ..did not get the hub 5 so complained was told because I have phone line on my volt package Hub 5 was no good to me as having problems with phone connections on Hub 5

    1. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

      Your expectation was wrong. In router mode the Hub 4 will deliver the full speed just not to a single device and they make that clear in the small print.

  6. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    I’ve seen several cases of VM doing work in our area on bidb.uk/one.network but they don’t supply to our town at all (It all seems to be duct work). Been wondering if they are therefore coming for almost a year. In the mean time two altnets have started work and are almost ready to take bookings… It looks like too little, too late in my area. I suspect that it will be case with a lot of these new roll out areas too. Altnets have hoovered up all the just profitable towns/villages BT and VM have ignored.

  7. Avatar photo J Star says:

    Been promised 5 years they would cable our street, only one in the whole town, kid you not, they missed in original build 20 years ago when Cabletel.

    No FTTP and no cable, unhappy bunny☺️☺️

Comments are closed

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