Virgin Media has agreed a five-year mobile deal with Vodafone to bring innovating new services to customers in the UK. The deal includes bringing 5G to around three million mobile users and will allow Virgin Media further flexibility to grow its mobile operation.
The new Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement, which runs until 2026, will see Vodafone supply wholesale mobile network services, including both voice and data, to Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media Business. Virgin Media will have full access to all of Vodafone’s current services and future technologies, such as Vodafone’s expanding 5G network, enabling new product advancements and benefits for its customers.
Virgin Media’s current MVNO agreement with BT Enterprise, which has been in place since January 2017, will come to an end in late 2021, at which point Virgin Media’s mobile offering will transition to Vodafone. Virgin Mobile 5G services are set to launch on the Vodafone network before the transition takes place.
The cable group currently uses BT’s mobile network EE in a deal that runs until 2021. Virgin will also launch 5G services via the Vodafone network before that point. This comes as a blow to BT as it comes under pressure to spend billions upgrading full-fibre capability. The current deal costs Virgin £200m a year.
Lutz Schüler, Virgin Media CEO, said: “We’ve worked with BT to provide mobile services for many years and will continue to work together in a number of areas. We want our customers to have a limitless experience - it’s now the right time to take a leap forward with Vodafone to grow further and faster”
He added: “This agreement with Vodafone will bring a host of fantastic benefits and experiences to our customers, including 5G services in the near future. Twenty years ago Virgin Mobile became the world’s first virtual operator and this new agreement builds on that heritage. It will open up a whole new world of opportunity for Virgin Media as we focus on becoming the most recommended brand for customers and bring our mobile and broadband connectivity closer together in one package for one price.”
Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO, said: “We are delighted that Virgin has recognised the huge investments we’ve made, and continue to make, in building the UK’s best mobile network and our role in challenging the market with new commercial services. As a result, they have chosen us to work with them in the next phase of their development.