Virgin Media and TalkTalk are reportedly working on a deal which could see the pair share the cost of rolling out new ultrafast broadband networks, according to The Telegraph. The two companies are understood to be discussing the sharing of passive infrastructure, with it being suggested that any deal could allow TalkTalk to lay fibre-optics in Virgin Media’s underground ducts and vice versa. TeleGeography notes that the rumours come in the wake of TalkTalk’s February 2018 announcement that it had agreed ‘heads of terms’ with Infracapital with regards to the creation of an independent company in which the latter would own 80% and TalkTalk 20%. At that date the altnet said it was eying potential equity investment of up to GBP500 million (USD677 million) – enabling total investment of around GBP1.5 billion – to provide full fibre-based connectivity to more than three million premises in ‘mid-sized towns and cities’ in the UK.
It has been noted that should TalkTalk reach a deal with Virgin which allows it to piggyback on the latter’s network, this could bring costs down sharply for the proposed fibre rollout by reducing the need to dig up pavements. In return, meanwhile, Virgin Media could benefit from the partnership as it may enable it to accelerate its ongoing ‘Project Lightning’ expansion programme by following TalkTalk into new territory.
With the talks said to be at an early stage, however, and no guarantee a deal will be forthcoming, both Virgin Media and TalkTalk declined to comment on the matter.