Virgin Media and O2, two of the biggest names in the telecommunications industry, have officially merged in a 50:50 joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica. In what is now the UK’s largest ever telecoms deal, the new Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has now launched with a new logo featuring both brands combined as one.
The full completion of the £31bn merger is set to create some 2,000 new jobs in the UK, as well as supporting 1,000 apprenticeships. VMO2 has also launched its Virgin Media O2 Together Fund to help support small charities across the UK, donating £1,000 grants. This is to “support and celebrate community spirit, belonging and togetherness”, according to its website.
Apart from this, there’s been little new information revealed about the merger, which was officially approved by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) earlier this year. Virgin Media O2 will now look at combining its broadband, phone, TV and mobile network business, making it a powerful competitor to other quad-play providers like BT and Sky.
Even though it only formed today, VMO2 is automatically one of the largest UK providers, with a combined 47 million customers across all of its services, with 430 retail stores and 18,000 employees.
From its new position, VMO2 is set to take on BT in its goal to “upgrade the UK” through a £10bn investment in the rollout of fibre broadband and 5G infrastructure over the next five years.
A statement from the company said, “Building on the success of its existing fibre network expansion activity, the business is planning to go further and faster by deploying fibre to millions of additional homes across the country. A variety of options, including potential partnerships, are currently being worked on to achieve this.”
In previous statements, the company stated its plans to expand its gigabit-capable broadband network to an additional one million homes within 12 months of the merger closing, bringing its reach to 16 million homes.
Lutz Schüler, CEO of VMO2, said:
“With the fastest broadband and most reliable mobile network in the UK today, Virgin Media O2 is the complete package.
“We are ready to shake up the market and be the competitor the country needs at a time when choice has never been more important. Through investment and innovation in cutting-edge infrastructure and future technology, we will connect more people to the things they love, support communities across the country, help businesses to grow, and power the UK economy.
“With no limit to our ambition, we’re here to upgrade the UK – and our mission starts today.”
Schüler has expressed his interest in the past to take on Openreach as a wholesale network, opening up competition for the BT-owned network and allowing other brands to move from Openreach to Virgin to provider their broadband services. The real life details of this remain to be seen, but if major providers like Sky Broadband were considering moving over to Virgin, this could seriously disrupt BT’s hold on the UK broadband market.