back to article Virgin surprises market by hopping into bed with BT for MVNO love-in

Virgin Media has surprised the market by signing a five-year deal with rival BT to use EE's network. The Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) deal means BT's EE will provide wholesale mobile network services to Virgin Media, a subsidiary of Liberty Global. Virgin Media has been relatively late to the 4G market, having only …

  1. fLaMePrOoF

    The deal will also avoid the need for extensive systems integration with a new MVNO provider at a time when critical systems and projects depend on this integration...

    1. AlgernonFlowers4
      WTF?

      No Thanks

      To mobile virtual virgins - can't they get real ones?

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. IHateWearingATie
    Alert

    Let me fix that for you...

    "BT values the economy of scale that Virgin Media brings to our network"

    should be

    "BT understands the significant additional pain to be meted out by the regulator if we started playing silly buggers with this deal. Look Ms White*, we can play nicely with others... please don't break us up"

    *Sharon White being the head of OFCOM. Met her once, very smart.

  4. Martin hepworth

    extension

    Just an extension of the existing deal between Virgin and EE..

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

    These two companies are as thick as thieves since VM failed to argue against the separation/split of Openreach 'the local loop' from BT Group. Virgin Media knows the outcome of a separate Openreach would mean VM having to give wholesale access (to other operators i.e. Sky) to their Fibre/Coxial Network on an equal footing. Something VM would fight.

    VM/BT have obviously agreed to stand up to the Ofcom together regards the separation/split of Openreach/the local loop, to prevent wholesale access to the VM network. BT see the benefit of this too. Wholesale access to the VM network offers little advantage to BT, as in those areas BT tends to compete anyway. Together, have effectively formed a Quad play duopoly with this deal, allowing them to control/set the market price for such services.

    BT don't want Openreach split off, because BT want the ability to control the 'obsolete' copper wires/local loop technology, bias any future rollout towards legacy copper technology and rollout 'upto' G.fast to the local loop, which has the 'added benefit', for BT to place an artificial restriction in terms of speed/number of services taken at once, on the local loop. ie. It keeps BT in control of BTWholesale, and generating 'cashcow' profits from maintaining the local loop 'as copper'.

    G.fast rollout effectively allows BT to gouge pricing based on different tiers of service and keep per MB pricing for EE Mobile Data, with no pressure to increase data throughput on their EE mobile network (i.e there is no need to match a <2% non-existent BT 1Gbps FTTP Service). This benefits both EE and VM. 'Per MB Pricing' is how they want mobile data pricing to remain.

    Contrast this to true FTTP rollout (with redundant fibres to the door) which would allow a households to make the choice at their doorstep, outwith control of BT, to take multiple Fibre based services at once from BT and others, outside the control of the BT ordering system/BT Wholesale.

    What needs to counter this cosy bedroom relationship between VM/BT is to force all renewals/new builds to be true FTTP rollout within the local loop (each property with redundant 4-6 fibres). Ofcom need to prevent G.fast rollout to new builds/line renewals going forward. So some form of competition is put back over time. Additionally set regulated FTTP rollout targets for a Separate Openreach.

    Forcing FTTP rollout going forward for this segment, has the effect of taking control away from BT, for that new segment of the market. This must be a goal of Ofcom, more so than the 10Mbps USO, which is pretty pointless, and will achieve very little.

    This deal proves how ineffective Ofcom is, when the two biggest infrastructure players join forces against the Regulator.

    1. David Neil

      Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

      There is a slight issue with your supposition that OFCOM would be able to force VM to open up their network.

      VM's network was built with solely private capital, the Openreach network was primarily built with public funding and then upgraded.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

        I think if you look at the way Theresa May worded things at the Conservative Party Conference, she said she would intervene where the market wasn't working (which it isn't in terms of rollout of pure Fibre), she would do everything in her legislative power to change that. That was the emphasis at least.

        It makes sense to force all new Openreach installs to be pure FTTP (with 4-6 redundant fibres per property+FTTP replacements of all upgrades and copper renewals, going forward, with BT losing overall control to those redundant fibres directly.

        The Openreach staffing levels could be tied in/maintained, so that as FTTP rollout reduced copper maintenance costs, staff could be assigned on further FTTP rollout.

        It also makes sense for there to be a true cost analysis of any G.fast rollout BT want to do (because G.fast essentially favours BT's Legacy copper network, at the detriment to UK advancement), so that where the G.fast installs are complicated/expensive, i.e. Exchange Lines being fed to loop-back FTTC/G.fast cabinets, BT couldn't rollout G.fast for the sake of G.fast, if Fibre could be shown to be simpler in those circumstances (due to no interference issues).

        This is crucial to prevent this duopoly.

        Giving VM access to those new pure redundant fibres could be on the basis of giving wholesale access to their network in return, if VM are hostile to that, it could even be on a one-to-one 'block swap'. i.e. for every VM connection the new FTTP Openreach network, VM had to allow BT+Sky etc to connect to the VM network.

        This gives an incentive to upgrade the Openreach Network to pure Fibre, because other operators would get full access to those redundant fibres, outside BT's control. It would allow each household to take multiple services from multiple telecom companies at once.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

      You're like that Eadon bloke used to be on any story about microsoft.

      If you don't want G.Fast don't buy it. I'd quite like faster broadband and I don't much care if it's copper or fibre or magic angel string as long as it's quite cheap and quite fast.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

        Do you understand how G.fast works when you say "I don't much care if it's copper or fibre or magic angel string as long as its quite cheap and quite fast"?

        Do you live with 150m line of sight (as the crow flies) of an existing FTTC?

        Because if you don't, you can kiss goodbye to faster broadband by G.fast. For G.fast to actually work, BT needs upto 25 additional 'actively powered' G.fast nodes in every 2Km2 square block of the UK to get this wonderful 'cheap' blanket/ubiquitous ultrafast G.fast you talk of.

        Ubiquitous is not something G.fast is very good at, without exponentially Carpet bombing nodes everywhere. Each node has to be actively powered (to the National Grid)

        1. Blotto Bronze badge

          Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

          @ac

          That's some serious Chinese whispers gone bad.

          You've heard stuff completely wrong and regurgitating it badly mangled.

          Divorce access tech from need and your half way there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Accept the soggy wet sandwich we're giving you, stop moaning, G.fast is more of the same.

            @ac

            "That's some serious Chinese whispers gone bad.

            You've heard stuff completely wrong and regurgitating it badly mangled.

            Divorce access tech from need and your half way there."

            Er, Pot, Kettle, with that garbled reply.

            Translation: Accept this soggy wet sandwich we're giving you, stop moaning, G.fast is more of the same, looking ahead.

    3. IHateWearingATie
      Thumb Down

      Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

      "Virgin Media knows the outcome of a separate Openreach would mean VM having to give wholesale access (to other operators i.e. Sky) to their Fibre/Coxial Network on an equal footing."

      Utter rubbish.

      The VM network isn't regulated in that way and OFCOM would require new primary legislation or a series of very dubious decisions on Significant Market Power (which would get crushed in a judicial review) in order to do anything like that.

      VM don't want OpenReach split off as it suits them to have their competitors distracted with regulatory hassles while then concentrate on improving their vertically integrated network

    4. PNGuinn
      Joke

      Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

      OTOH, if OFFCON get shirty and do try to hive off Opensqueek, BT can piggy back on Vermin Media's grossly under utilised super fast super modern super reliable cable network instead, in a sort of mutual "you pick my nose and I'll scratch your arse" (or the other way round). kind of deal.

      That should frighten off Offcon and the Westminster Weasels sniffing the pork of a few tasty directorships ....

      Job done.

    5. lividgeek

      Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

      Can I ask who will pay for this wondrous FTTP network you are suggesting?

      Also why on earth would you want 4-6 redundant fibres at each property?

      FTTP will come with time its inevitable but people want faster speeds now and not everyone lives close to an exchange. It makes sense (from both a financial and time sense) to use the copper network in the mean time and utilise it to its fullest. Especially as very few people actually need FTTP speeds and definitely wouldn't be willing to pay for it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VM/BT as thick as thieves, due to Openreach decision. Forms a Quad-play duopoly.

        Certainly not BT that's for sure. They'd grab any handouts for Pointless G.fast if they could weasel them. They certainly tried, before the current G.fast rollout plans were shown to only really benefit those already getting the fastest speeds on FTTC.

        G.fast not an inclusive technology, it's selective. Rollout is selective. It's very dependent on where you live, more so than FTTC. It leaves large gaps in the coverage between nodes.

        Everything going forward, should be about getting more real fibre in the ground. It's the only way the UK can be robustly agile, going forward.

        That's why its important to force all new builds, renewals to be FTTP, ASAP, with Openreach as a separate entity. If you concentrate on the new builds/upgrades, slowly it puts competition back in to the market, taking control away from BT.

        All new builds / renewals within the local loop should be spun off from BT completely.

        Fibre itself isn't the expensive bit, you'd be daft not to install 4 fibres as a minimum per property when install new builds/end of life renewals (as Swiss Telecom have), as part of rollout. It takes control away from BT, other telecom providers can ultilise those dark fibres, enabling competition in the telecoms market, which is severely lacking, even more so now.

        It gives you the choice at your Doorstep, to take multiple services from different telecom providers, without having to go through BT ordering systems/BT controlling the final legacy copper link.

        Taxpayers paid vast amount to BT for 'Superfast Fibre Broadband', we instead got underwhelming different forms of sweated hybrid legacy copper Broadband, they are not the same.

  6. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    BT and NTL are both ghastly.

  7. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    Just say "no"

    BT / Post Office - just say "no".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see the underworked and overpaid BT employees are out in force on the comments section defending their pensions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't think that's the case. I think people find it tiresome that any article about moving bits from one place to another invites 5,000 word angry comments about g.fast full of strawmen, conspiracy, bamboozlings, carcasses and carpet bombings.

      What that has to do with a mobile wholesale deal is beyond me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        FTTP, real Fibre as the disruptor to cosy BT/VM duopoly plans.

        You're trying to suggest their is no connection between Mobile Wholesale and UK Broadband market in general. They are joined at the hip. It has everything to do with it, because G.fast rollout is an important, fundamental fulcrum point in UK's telecom market and its a big mistake for the UK as a whole, to be continuing with copper rollout, going forward.

        BT/EE have 42% of the mobile spectrum, this deal is about re-inforcing BT/EE 'per MB' pricing for mobile data, with VM saying, we're 'on-side' with your G.fast rollout plans, if you give us a bit of that 'per MB' pricing for our Quad Play.

        It's all about rubbing shoulders, it stinks of a duopoly being formed, so they control how different data is priced, with (what appears) mutually agreed plans to fight any new regulations attempting to get more real Fibre in the ground.

        These two BT/VM are protecting their bits of turf, because any real Fibre rollout by a separate Openreach spin-off would have a similar effect on both companies. BT and VM are standing up together against any such changes.

        There needs to be at least a disruptor here to stop the market going stale. FTTP (with redundant fibres) for new builds/renewals, to a standard specification, would upset their cosy plans, especially if this new market was spun off from BT completely.

      2. ENS

        G.Fast is Just Filibustering.

        Rolling out G.Fast to a Cellular Site will meet the current 4G requirements (barely) but will need to be upgraded to a fibre if it's planned to support low-latency (e.g Autonomous car signalling) 5G services.

        So fibre is needed anyway, and starting a G.Fast deployment will soak up cash and resources for 30-48months deployment. The cow just gives out more cash.

        Put out fibre ubiquitously today and you are limitless and future-proofed.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The lazy, half arsed reply of telling people to effectively, shut up.

    "I don't think that's the case. I think people find it tiresome that any article about moving bits from one place to another invites 5,000 word angry comments about g.fast full of strawmen, conspiracy, bamboozlings, carcasses and carpet bombings.

    What that has to do with a mobile wholesale deal is beyond me."

    Nothing worse than posting a comment, that you want others to read, which says 'read my comments, but not others'. If you don't agree, string together a reason you don't agree (it can be garbled, nonsensical), but its always better than the lazy, half arsed reply of telling people to effectively, shut up.

    Is that the best you have? Telling someone to shut up. It sadly seems so.

    They are all valid points regarding the UK Telecom's market, and yes, they do seem beyond you.

  10. pgoncalv

    Virgin media 4G

    Virgin media was certainly making unlimited 4G available since Oct 2015 (using the EE network)...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019