Wednesday, 22 September 2021

VMO2 planning major fibre upgrade by 2028

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 29 July 21

The operator has announced it will upgrade its entire network to full fibre by 2028

Newly merged operator Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has today announced its quarterly financial results, highlighting the progress made in integrating the two companies and reaffirming their target of delivering synergies of £540 million by mid-2026. As part of this announcement, VMO2 has announced its intention to upgrade its entire fixed network to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), with completion expected during 2028. This upgrade would cover 14…

Newly merged operator Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has today announced its quarterly financial results, highlighting the progress made in integrating the two companies and reaffirming their target of delivering synergies of £540 million by mid-2026.

As part of this announcement, VMO2 has announced its intention to upgrade its entire fixed network to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), with completion expected during 2028. This upgrade would cover 14.3 million premises, on top of the 1.2 million already passed, delivering symmetrical speeds of at least 10Gbps.
 
Currently, VMO2’s fixed network is dominated by older Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) technology, though an upgrade to support the DOCSIS 3.1 standard has been underway for over a year now, alongside their FTTP rollout, helping to deliver greater speeds for customers. Currently, this upgrade is 47% complete, with the technology upgraded across the whole network by the end of the year. 
 
Thus, by the end of the 2021, VMO2 says that speeds of 1.1Gbps will be available across its entire network, in line with UK government targets for delivering a gigabit-capable Britain.
 
“Our mission is to upgrade the UK, and we are doing exactly that. This major new fibre upgrade programme will see us begin the next evolution of our network, building on the investment, firepower and leadership we already have and ensuring we’re fibre fit for the future,” said VMO2 CEO Lutz Schüler.
 
“Right now, we have the UK’s leading gigabit network, and this upgrade means we’ll be even stronger for the decades ahead, pursuing new opportunities and putting words into action. In 60 days since the formation of Virgin Media O2, we have achieved a lot, but this is just the beginning. With strong foundations for growth in place, we will boost connectivity, provide greater choice and be a challenger the country can count on.”
 
Transitioning its entire network to FTTP is no small feat, but VMO2 says that it can be achieved in a relatively cost-effective manner. Using the company’s existing fully-ducted network, VMO2 suggests that each additional premise passed will cost around £100, making it one of the most efficient fibre rollouts available.
 
By comparison, the company estimates that upgrading to DOCSIS 4 in future would still cost around £60 per premises and, even then, this infrastructure would not be able to perform at the same level as FTTP in the long-term. As a result, the decision to rollout FTTP across their entire network is seemingly driven in a large part by a wish to futureproof the network in view of the soaring data demand. In short, it will be cheaper in the long run to upgrade to fibre now than continue to support HFC technologies.
 
VMO2 have previously said they will invest £10 billion over the next five years in upgrading their 5G and FTTP networks.
 
 
Will the new VMO2 provide a convincing challenger to BT? Find out how the merger has impacted the UK connectivity landscape at this year’s live Connected Britain event
 
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