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Sky Reach Wholesale Broadband Deal with Virgin Media in Ireland

Friday, Nov 24th, 2023 (9:20 am) - Score 3,360
virgin media engineer jacket close up

In a hint of what might happen in the UK a little further down the road. Sky Ireland and Virgin Media Ireland recently signed a significant wholesale network access agreement, which will enable Sky’s customers to harness Virgin’s full fibre broadband ISP network in the country.

At present Virgin Media’s network in Ireland is significantly smaller (only passing 1 million premises) and a bit less complex than their one in the UK. But the operator is in the process of investing €200m on a network upgrade, which will convert their legacy Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) lines to 10Gbps capable XGS-PON based Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology by 2025.

NOTE: The Full Fibre upgrade programme has so far completed 250,000 premises.

Suffice to say that Virgin Media’s efforts in Ireland could be considered to roughly mirror their efforts in the UK, which is why the reaching of a new wholesale agreement with Sky is so relevant. The deal shows that such deals can be made attractive enough for both sides to find enough benefit – overcoming any competitive differences or concerns.

At present Virgin Media’s (VMO2) existing UK network is still closed to wholesale and that probably won’t change until their FTTP upgrade programme – due to complete in 2028 – has made a bit more progress. So far, we think they’ve probably done around 1.5-2 million of their 14m legacy HFC lines.

In addition, the vast majority of Virgin’s new XGS-PON powered FTTP broadband build in the UK (beyond the 16m mark) has come under the new nexfibre network, which is a closely linked joint venture company that was established in 2022 by Telefónica, Liberty Global and InfraVia Capital Partners (here).

Nexfibre aims to roll out FTTP to an additional 5-7 million UK premises by 2026-27 and is open to wholesale (deployment plan for 2024), although so far Virgin remains their only anchor tenant ISP. This has resulted in some questions over whether rivals can secure an attractive enough wholesale deal to make it viable (nexfibre are in competition with lots of AltNets and Openreach). Sky’s deal in Ireland suggests it can.

Tony Hanway, CEO of Virgin Media Ireland, said:

“We welcome Sky as a wholesale network partner as we continue our network expansion nationally, bringing ultrafast fibre connectivity to over 1 million homes by the end of 2025. This further development forms part of our comprehensive ongoing commitment towards Ireland’s digital progress, enhancing overall competition and service delivery for consumers, businesses and communities nationwide.”

Sky Ireland CEO, JD Buckley, said:

“This partnership with Virgin Media Ireland allows us to offer our customers even more choice when it comes to full fibre broadband. Sky now has partnerships with every full fibre broadband provider in Ireland. Whether our customers are using broadband for work, streaming content through Sky Glass or Sky Stream, or gaming, we can offer them the best full fibre service available in their area. This new partnership highlights our shared commitment to provide Irish consumers with a wider choice of high-quality services and the best broadband experience.”

At this point it should go without saying that the UK’s fibre market is much more complex than Ireland and Virgin’s network is operating on a significantly larger scale. Put another way, we can’t say for certain that what will work in Ireland will also make sense for Sky Broadband in the UK, but they’re close enough that this could be taken as a promising indication for the future.

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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
5 Responses
    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Same one, but I didn’t cover it before 🙂 .

  1. Avatar photo Declan McGuinness says:

    Is VM fibre ran on docsis 3.1 like the UK ?

    1. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      Yes, it’s DOCSIS 3.1.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Depends where in Ireland you are. They’ve already started selling full fibre in areas that were previously 3.1.

      https://www.virginmedia.ie/about-us/press/2023/virgin-media-launches-2-gigabit-full-fibre-broadband/

      Over 40% of VM Ireland is now full fibre.

      If you can get 2 gigabit from them you’ll get full fibre.

Comments are closed

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