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Virgin Media O2 Linked Nexfibre Build FTTP to 500K UK Premises and Appoints CEO

Monday, Oct 2nd, 2023 (8:50 am) - Score 6,512
Virgin Media O2 Engineers Holding Optical Fibre Cable

Network operator nexfibre, which is working in a wholesale partnership with broadband ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) to deploy a new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across up to 7 million UK premises, has today announced that they’ve covered 500,000 premises (RFS) and appointed Rajiv Datta as CEO.

In case anybody has forgotten. Virgin Media effectively completed their own broadband expansion at the end of 2022 (16.1+ million UK homes serviceable). Since then the vast majority of new XGS-PON powered FTTP broadband build has come under nexfibre‘s wholesale network, which is a closely linked joint venture company that was established in 2022 by Telefónica, Liberty Global and InfraVia Capital Partners (here).

NOTE: At present, Virgin Media remains nexfibre’s only anchor tenant ISP, but that may change once coverage grows and if they can treat ISPs as fairly as Openreach.

Nexfibre’s £4.5bn aspiration (£1.4bn in equity and £3.1bn in debt) is to expand full fibre to reach “up to” 7 million additional UK homes – staring with 5m by 2026 (i.e. those homes not currently served by Virgin Media). In theory, this could push the combined VMO2 and nexfibre footprint to around 80% of UK premises by 2028 (up to 23 million premises), which is close to Openreach’s planned FTTP build (i.e. 25 million by Dec 2026).

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At the last update on 25th July 2023, we noted that nexfibre had so far covered around 300,000 premises passed (here) – adding 175,500 premises in Q2 2023 alone – and today’s announcement reveals that they’ve now passed 500,000 premises (all classed as ‘Ready for Service’). Crucially, this does NOT yet include the c.175,000 premises they’re set to acquire as part of the recently announced acquisition of Upp from LetterOne (here). Put another way, their rate of build is continuing to steadily increase.

The other big news today is that nexfibre has now appointed industry veteran Rajiv Datta to be its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Rajiv has 25 years of experience in the industry under his belt – mostly with building and managing large fibre-based networks and services across the US, Europe and Asia – and previously worked at Colt Technologies and AboveNet Communications (now Zayo Group).

Andrea Salvato, Chairman of nexfibre, said:

“The Board and I are delighted that Rajiv is joining the nexfibre team, and we look forward to working with him and our partners at Virgin Media O2 to create a national scale challenger, boosting wholesale competition, driving consumer choice and providing significant value to the UK economy.

We would like to thank Bernardo Quinn for his commitment and contribution. He has been instrumental in creating the nexfibre organisation, and setting the impressive pace of the programme to date.”

The mention of “boosting wholesale competition [and] driving consumer choice” is key. Until the operator can attract other ISPs to their platform, then all they may be perceived as doing is acting as a vehicle for Virgin Media’s continued expansion, albeit without Virgin itself feeling pressure from Ofcom to go wholesale (something VM have long been prepared to do). Despite early talk of potential agreements with TalkTalk and Sky Broadband, none have yet emerged.

The other difficulty is that nexfibre appears to have adopted Virgin Media’s seeming inability to announce any kind of useful future rollout plan, which is something that doesn’t seem to cause a problem for Openreach and many other alternative 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
31 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jamie says:

    Very impressive, they’re moving fast.

  2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    I’d like to see a report on legacy decaying HFC kit being replaced with XGS-PON network, the biggest part of VMO2’s network. Many ALTNETS deploying in various areas, and VM not even started work in many areas yet where they exist, whilst existing customers decide to switch.

    1. Avatar photo Jack says:

      It’s odd, Virgin had zero presence in Sandhurst, yet they’ve now built a network here and awaiting cabs to be connected.

      But they are a bit late because Altnets were here 2 years ago and Openreach FTTP is active on some roads and still being built – anyone who wanted real FTTP has either changed already or waiting on Openreach

    2. Avatar photo GG says:

      We’re at the edge of the Hemel area 31. They’ve positioned the new slim cabinets all over town and been pulling fibre (overlapped with F&W).
      The one on our street has been dug in and connected – there’s also some new equipment on the closest OR pole, so there’s definitely some movement. It may be that there’s only about half our street on the original coax, the fibre might be being used initially for infill.
      I’ll swap if they offer, estpecially if it brings better upload.
      It’s a race now between them and F&W…

    3. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Impossible to do everywhere at once but they are going at a pretty impressive pace. A cabinet next to each existing distribution cabinet and a powered cabinet every so often alongside the cabling and remedial work isn’t a trivial exercise.

      Unsure if they’ll provide updates on coverage but they’re working all over the country: basically wherever they can get contractors to do the work.

    4. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      VM is doing this in a very organised way. Fibre installation to the cabinets is done one town at a time. So, a build partner will be told to do, say, Midlands, starting with Coventry for 3-4 months, then Leiecester then Birmingham, etc. BP knows that there will be a build programme lasting for 2-5 years and can plan manpower and other resources accordingly. And once a town is done it can be marketed. When a customer is signed up the fibre drop cable will be installed from the L4 cabinet and the old coaxial cables can finally be removed.

    5. Avatar photo No name says:

      I’d like to know what’s happening with the RFOG areas too. These can’t go any higher than 50mbps upload apparently due to technical limitation of no Docsis 3.1 channel. I’d hope XGS-PON would be coming soon to these areas. I’d love to go faster than 50mbps up.

  3. Avatar photo Clearmind60 says:

    Are they going to do something about the horrendous customer services?

    1. Avatar photo Name says:

      Virgin? No.

    2. Avatar photo GG says:

      Yes, they’ll double down to make it even worse.
      I remember the VM chap who came round a few years ago saying they were on-shoring support again as it had got so bad, and I did speak to people in the UK.
      That now seems to be being unwound, again.

  4. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

    I thought it was RIP comments based on the weekends stories. Glad to see they are back!

  5. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

    Not my first choice – but I always said I would take a service from the first company that built – and in the last two weeks received notification that VM are building. Civils are but one street away… Happy days.

    1. Avatar photo Name says:

      If it’s anything like where I am from then don’t get too excited – too quickly.

      December last year was when the deployment started and only about a month ago was when they began to take customers on. I don’t live in a large town geographically or by population & it isn’t rural either.

      Openreach PIA was used largely with overhead cables on poles. Avonline were the contractors.

      YMMV as they say. But there’s your heads up in-case you think that it will be a live service mere weeks after the civil stuff is done.

    2. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      Indeed – good to know – Thank you

  6. Avatar photo FibreEng says:

    Nexfibre seem to be smashing it in, mostly because they are using PIA and some self build and targeting areas with less altnet activity.

    Working their way close to me but until they get other ISPs on board I can’t see me making the switch to VM

  7. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    I’ve seen VMO teams surveying my road recently. Maybe my town is next? Be interesting to see if a) They cover the whole town (and not do a Trooli and skip the difficult roads) b) Deploy fast (Giganet are over a year behind original estimates – mostly it seems because they aren’t skipping the difficult roads).

    Either way might be a sign someone might finally fiber up my road…

  8. Avatar photo Bob says:

    With the switch to digital Phones and Freely starting up next year that could drive up the take up of FTTP

    1. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      No, the retirement of PSTN by the end of 2025 and Freely do not require FTTP.

  9. Avatar photo Saw the Light says:

    Before you take Virgin Media make sure you’re happy with terms and conditions. Costs increase April each year by the retail price index plus 3.9%.

    1. Avatar photo AQX says:

      Sadly you’re not ever escaping this unless Wastecom get involved. BT, TalkTalk, PlusNet, Vodafone, Three, O2 are all guilty of something between CPI 3.7/RPI 3.7 or CPI/RPI 3.9. I recently took out a VM new contract with VM and they were hard drilling the RPI 3.9 into me during the call, mentioned it before the T&C and at the end of the T&C so they seem to be doing something right shockingly

    2. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Of course you can avoid the “inflation plus” thievery! Join one of the smaller ISPs with 12 month terms and fixed prices. Obviously they can change prices at the end of the 12 months, but equally you’re free to leave. Also, they don’t necessarily put prices up at the end of the 12 months – my contract with a smaller ISP is coming to its end, the rate for next year is the same as the rate I’m currently on.

      Take a look at the top ten for service here on ISP Review. You won’t be getting the massively discounted customer acquisition offers that the large ISPs have, but that’s where you make a choice – pay a bit more for better service and fewer unfair terms, or take the cheapest you can find, and endure the consequences.

  10. Avatar photo Aaron says:

    My area went live for virgin using XGS-PON this morning. I’m desperate to get decent broadband as I get poor fttc right now and its just not enough for a family home and working from home.

    However I simply can not bring myself to order it as virgin using a hub 5x, which is not fit for purpose. It doesn’t have modem mode so you can’t use your own hardware without double natting. The one router wouldn’t not cover half my home and people are struggling to get booster pods.

    So for me I’ll be waiting for either modem mode, another company on nexfibres network or another company installing fttp.. so close but do far.

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      If it’s your only high speed option and FTTC really doesn’t cut it, then you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face by saying no.

      Use your own wifi hardware in access point mode and rely on the hub’s router but turn off its wifi. VM will eventually restore modem mode to the 5x. The company’s dabbling with the firmware of its own hubs has always been a disaster, with each new fix introducing different bugs, but they do keep plodding along.

    2. Avatar photo Martyn says:

      Modem mode is there, it just isn’t in the UI for some reason, simple google search will help you to locate it.

  11. Avatar photo Dan says:

    When will this be available in Liverpool for order? Or how do you know when it’s live?

  12. Avatar photo Chrissey says:

    All of Milton Keynes is currently under civil work with KellyComms for VM02 and Nexfibre according to roadworks information.

  13. Avatar photo ANTONY says:

    what they advtise they carnt suply owe me a loads of people money for damageing walls inside and outside over charging 0.4 phone servises

  14. Avatar photo toney says:

    what they advtise they carnt suply owe me a loads of people money for damageing walls inside and outside over charging 0.4 phone servises

  15. Avatar photo Martyn says:

    When they going to offer proper tariffs then?? 500k people stuck with HTC speeds. What a waste of effort.

  16. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

    Homes past figures do not mean much when you are not connected revenue generating residential or business customers and do not wholesale your DOCSIS or PON network.

Comments are closed

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