Liberty Global's Virgin Media mulls major fiber expansion via joint venture - report

Fiber
Liberty Global is reportedly mulling a joint venture that would expand Virgin Media's fiber build out to underserved areas of the U.K. (Pixabay)

Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media is looking to expand its fiber network beyond urban areas in the U.K. via a wholesale fiber network joint venture.

The Financial Times (subscription required), citing unnamed sources, reported that Liberty Global appointed investment bank Lion Tee to establish a joint venture (JV) business that would bring an all-fiber network to millions of British homes that lie outside of its existing footprint.

By using Liberty Global funds and infrastructure funds, Virgin Media would be the anchor tenant in the joint venture, but the new network could also potentially be open to other service providers. Virgin Media, the country's second largest broadband provider, plans to pass around two million homes in underserved areas of the U.K. with the JV network, according to the Financial Times.

John Malone-backed Liberty Global will finalize its $22 billion deal to sell its cable assets in Germany and Central Europe to Vodafone at the end of this month, which will give it plenty of investment cash for the JV.

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The JV would compete with BT's Openreach fiber build as well fiber newcomers such as CityFibre, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic. The Financial Times story said Virgin Media's new network would use Openreach's poles and ducts.

The JV would be separate from Virgin Media's "Project Lightning" fiber build, which has reached 1.7 million premises to date as part of a plan to pass 4 million homes in Virgin Media's footprint.

The Financial Times article said that both Liberty Global and Virgin Media declined to comment on the formation of the JV network

In April, Virgin Media announced a new top speed of 500 Mbps for its broadband service, as well as increasing the minimum speeds for its mobile and fixed-line broadband plans.