Virgin Media inks GBP100m backhaul deal with MBNL

7 Sep 2011

UK-based cableco Virgin Media’s business unit, Virgin Media Business, has announced that it has inked a deal worth more than GBP100 million (USD160 million) to provide backhaul connectivity to Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL), the joint venture between British cellcos T-Mobile UK and H3G UK; customers of Orange UK will also benefit from the deal as the result of the formation of a joint venture, Everything Everywhere, between it and T-Mobile last year. According to Virgin Media, MBNL will be the first company to roll out the former’s seamless Sync-E solution, with the deployment reportedly enabling MBNL to support increased data traffic and ‘lay the foundations for a transition towards 4G’. Under the terms of the eight-year contact, Virgin Media has agreed to construct 14 regional aggregation networks across the UK to enhance MBNL’s bandwidth capacity, with the infrastructure designed to enhance customer experiences when accessing 3G services such as video calling.

Commenting on the development, Neil Berkett, chief executive officer at Virgin Media, noted: ‘People no longer expect to simply make calls from their mobile phone. Being connected all the time to social networks, the internet and their favourite apps is very much a basic expectation which operators need to deliver on. Investing now means they’ll be able to deal with the escalating data demands of today and tomorrow.’ Graham Payne, managing director of MBNL, meanwhile said: ‘Mobile data and the increase in smartphone usage is a big growth opportunity for us. Connecting our end users to the online world, from any location and from any device is at the heart of what we do. Working together with Virgin Media Business, the first company in the market to offer this synchronous Gigabit Ethernet service, we will be able to scale for future demand.’

According to ZDNet UK meanwhile, fixed line incumbent BT, which already has a deal in place with MBNL to supply backhaul until 2013, said that that arrangement was unaffected by MBNL’s decision to ink the deal with Virgin Media. ‘BT’s existing five-year contract with MBNL for the provision of managed Ethernet backhaul services is completely separate from the deal that has been signed between Virgin Media and MBNL,’ the telco was cited as saying.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), EE, Virgin Media