Telcos Liberty Global and Telefonica, and infrastructure investment firm InfraVia Capital Partners have signed an agreement to establish a new joint venture (JV) that will roll out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) to up to seven million homes across the UK. The new JV will be split 50/50 between InfraVia and a holding company jointly held by Telefonica and Liberty and will provide wholesale access to telecom service providers, with Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) acting as an anchor tenant. The deployment will initially target five million homes not currently served by VMO2 by 2026 at a cost of around GBP4.5 billion (USD5.5 billion), with the opportunity to expand to a further two million homes. Alongside VMO2’s plans to upgrade its existing footprint to FTTH, the deal will increase the operator’s footprint to around 23 million homes, or roughly 80% of UK households. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2022.
Commenting on the plans, Liberty CEO Mike Fries was quoted as saying: ‘This landmark agreement with Liberty Global, Telefonica and InfraVia will expand our FTTH footprint to millions of new UK homes, creating the undisputed second national fibre network in the UK … VMO2 will bring significant build expertise, and will benefit from a meaningful off-net growth opportunity and as the anchor client will support attractive returns for the JV – a winning combination.’