VMO2 eyes fibre JV
January 31, 2022
By Colin Mann
UK multiplay telco Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) is planning to launch a fibre network construction joint venture led by owners Liberty Global and Telefónica, according to reports. Such an operation would seek to rival BT’s Openreach digital infrastructure arm.
The new company is seeking a substantial sum from third-party investors, with one source suggesting the external capital injection could eventually total as much as £1 billion (€1.2bn). It would aim to build up to seven million fibre-to-the-premises homes in areas of the UK outside VMO2’s core operating areas, largely based on broadband cable TV network franchises, awarded in the 1980s and 1990s, which cover some 70 per cent of the nation.
Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries, speaking to analysts after the company revealed its Q3 numbers in November 2021, said that neither his company nor Telefónica would be excited about funding such an expansion on their own. “On the other hand, I would add that there is quite a bit of infrastructure money searching for deals like this,” he advised. “There are industrial partners in-country who might be interested in something like that.”