Virgin Media has signed a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement with Vodafone that will last until 2026.
Under the terms of the deal announced, Virgin Media’s mobile customers will be switched from networks operated by BT Enterprise (BT owns operator EE), and onto the mobile networks of Vodafone.
The five year agreement will see Vodafone supply wholesale mobile network services, including both voice and data, to Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media Business, including the use of 5G networks.
It is understood that Virgin Media’s current contract with BT only expires 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.
Virgin Media is said to have more than three million mobile customers, and the contract is a win for Vodafone as it seeks competitive advantage in the hotly contested UK market.
At the same time the contract is a bit of blow for BT, as the Virgin Media contract was reportedly worth £200 million to the former UK incumbent.
“This agreement with Vodafone will bring a host of fantastic benefits and experiences to our customers, including 5G services in the near future,” said Lutz Schüler, Virgin Media CEO. “Twenty years ago Virgin Mobile became the world’s first virtual operator and this new agreement builds on that heritage.”
“We’ve worked with BT to provide mobile services for many years and will continue to work together in a number of areas,” said Schüler. “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.”
There was an understandably pleased reaction from Vodafone.
“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,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery. “As a result, they have chosen us to work with them in the next phase of their development.”
“This is an exciting deal between two great British brands,” added Jeffery. “We are combining our strong heritage in innovation to create a world without limits for our customers through unlimited data offers and 5G.”
As this is a ‘full MVNO’ agreement, Virgin Mobile has control over the products and services it offers.
Existing Virgin Media mobile customers will not need to change their SIM cards as part of this agreement.
Virgin Media has been owned by US cable giant Liberty Global ever since 2013.
In 2014 Vodafone reportedly considered a bid for cable operator Liberty Global to counter BT’s acquisition of a mobile network.
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