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Virgin Media O2 UK Extend Broadband to Older OFNL Sites

Friday, Sep 2nd, 2022 (9:35 am) - Score 6,704
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ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that their partnership with Open Fibre Networks Limited (OFNL / GTC / BUUK) is being extended, which will enable them to expand their rival gigabit broadband, TV and phone network to cover UK homes on some of the operator’s existing (older) sites.

Back in the Spring (here) we revealed that a new partnership with GTC had enabled Virgin Media, via a dual lay network (i.e. separate fibre cables laid in a single duct), to deliver their full fibre service to homes on new build sites being developed via the OFNL duct infrastructure. But this only impacted new contracts that were signed with GTC from November 2021.

However, OFNL’s own open access Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network, which also supplies Sky’s TV services via their fibre infrastructure, currently covers over 50,000 premises across the UK and most of those were deployed prior to November 2021. Consumers who take this service typically sign-up to it via any one of several supporting ISPs (e.g. Direct Save Telecom, Seethelight etc.).

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As such, the move to allow Virgin Media to run their own optical fibre cables through the same duct as first deployed by OFNL (each network will use its own fibres) was a significant one, which meant that consumers would finally be able to benefit from some real infrastructure level competition and related ISP choice. At the same time, GTC’s utility solutions would become more attractive to both property developers and potential buyers.

Nevertheless, the significance of all this was somewhat hobbled by the fact that it only applied to recent builds and not OFNL’s existing estate, but that is about to change. Some of our readers in older OFNL sites recently informed us that they’d received flyers promoting the future arrival of Virgin Media’s service and, upon asking about this, they were told that it would be available in around 2-3 months’ time. VMO2 has now confirmed this.

A Spokesperson for VMO2 told ISPreview.co.uk:

“As we continue expanding our network and upgrading the UK, we are working with partners to provide more choice to households via our partnership with Open Fibre Networks. We’ve recently expanded this agreement which will accelerate plans to bring our gigabit network to even more homes across the country.”

The caveat here is Virgin Media have clarified that they won’t necessarily be building their gigabit-capable broadband network to “all” of OFNL’s existing sites, but they do now have that option and are clearly expanding into some of them already. We strongly suspect that Virgin will focus on those sites that are already next to one of their existing networks.

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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
4 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Tom D says:

    Cranbrook near Exeter has virgin media in the later new development phases, but OFNL only in the first couple of phases which is where I am. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that because VM are already in just down the road, they’ll retroactively use the OFNL ducts to finally give us some choice and competition of existing providers! However I won’t hold my breath for it happening any time soon.

  2. Avatar photo Karen says:

    Is there an issue with OFNL fibre that means that VM need to run their own fibre? I know they are used to having their own infrastructure, but with the bandwidth in fibre, shouldn’t they just be able to act as an ISP and push their service the same? Or is the way they push it incompatible?

    1. Avatar photo joshe says:

      ROFG vs GPON issue maybe? Plus there needs to be a different termination for the fibre so that would make switching between the two networks very difficult.

  3. Avatar photo Just a thought says:

    Will any company that wants access be given the same PIA rights as applied to OR ducts?

    Maybe the first company in an area should have to install ducts that other operators can hire/buy rights to….. The benefit of being first but with the possibility of getting access payments from other providers. Just a case of balancing, make sure it is cheaper than installing fresh ducts, and then reap the benefit from several users????

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