Virgin Media plans to expand its fibre network to reach more customers

Virgin plans fibre network expansion

British telecommunications provider Virgin Media said it will invest £3bn to expand its fibre network to reach more customers and provide higher Internet speed.

Aiming to cover 17 million homes across the UK, up by 4 million from the current 13, the firm said the network reinforcement would require employing further 6,000 people.

Virgin Media’s broadband is one of the fastest available in the UK, at 152 megabits per second.

Rivals BT and Sky offer a maximum of 76 Mbps. The three companies compete in the Internet provision, pay-TV and fixed-line telephony market, otherwise known as triple play. Virgin media also offers mobile services and will soon face competition from BT and Sky there too as the two groups add mobile to make a quad play offering.

"In our view this expansion will take time to build out and naturally so will the penetration of these households, however this is a negative for BT, Sky or TalkTalk," analysts at Espirito Santo told Reuters.

Citi analysts said Virgin currently has around 5 million subscribers across all services.

"The big question for investors will be whether Virgin Media can maintain its share profile vs. homes passed," they said. "If this is the case, then potentially there are 1.7 million subscribers across the triple play space 'at risk' when the roll out of the increased footprint is completed."

Virgin Media, owned by Europe’s largest cable operator Liberty Global may soon see its competitors stepping up the battle for customers. BT has recently announced its plans to start trials of new superfast broadband technology that would be up to six times faster than what’s currently available.

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