7 million homes to be connected to fibre in new joint venture network

Bands of light flow towards the camera, across a dark street

A new fibre network servicing up to 7 million UK homes has been announced as part of a joint venture between telecommunications giant Liberty Global, fellow telco Telefónica Infra, and private equity firm InfraVia.

By 2026, the partnership is set to roll out fibre to 5 million homes that are not currently connected to Virgin Media O2’s network. A further 2 million homes have been identified as expansion targets for a point after this date.

This would prove a significant boost for the UK’s gigabit internet availability, benefiting customers as well as rural businesses underserved by current infrastructure.

The fibre network is expected to offer fibre to the home access to existing internet service providers (ISPs), with Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) already an operating client. Added on to VMO2’s existing network, this will expand the company’s fibre reach to approximately 80% of UK homes.

For the initial stage, it's estimated that £4.5 billion will need to be invested, which will be funded pro rata by the three partners, with up to £1.4 billion in aggregate, over a four to five year period.

Liberty Global and Telefónica will hold a joint 50% stake in the venture by way of a holding company, and InfraVia will hold the remaining 50%.

The announcement comes at a time of stagnation in UK fibre rollout, with a report this year criticising the lack of progress on the part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to meet its 2025 broadband coverage targets.

However others in the industry, such as telecommunications service provider CityFibre, have argued that overbuilding by Openreach and VMO2 is stifling competition within the UK.

“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,” said Mike Fries, CEO and vice chairman of Liberty Global.

“VMO2 has already committed to upgrading its entire existing 16 million footprint to FTTH. This JV will take our aggregate FTTH footprint to up to 23 million homes, reaching around 80% of the UK.”

Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at rory.bathgate@futurenet.com or on LinkedIn.