EE, the UK’s largest cellco by subscribers, is reported to have reached an updated agreement with cableco Virgin Media under which the latter will continue to operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) over its infrastructure. According to the Financial Times, the deal is said to be worth more than GBP300 million (USD485 million) in revenue over a five-year period, and while EE had previously hosted the cableco’s mobile voice offering, interest from other parties is said to have meant there was significant competition during a long tender process for Virgin Mobile’s business. Neither EE nor Virgin have confirmed the deal, however, though the report claims that an official announcement could be made by the end of this week.
As per EE’s revised strategy for the growth of its wholesale business, it is said to be seeking to maintain fewer, but larger, partnerships. Should the cellco confirm the updated agreement with Virgin Media, it would represent its second recent MVNO-related development. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this week UK supermarket chain Asda revealed it had decided to switch its own-brand virtual operator from Vodafone UK to EE’s network from next month. Asda Mobile has been working under a wholesale agreement with Vodafone since its launch in 2007, but is moving to EE as part of a wider partnership between the two firms. EE is currently providing free Wi-Fi networks in Asda’s 568 UK stores, with more than half a million Asda customers having already registered for in-store access. Further, it is understood that EE is also still competing with rival O2 UK for the contract to provide mobile services for fixed line incumbent BT.