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Virgin Media Boss Confirms Interest in Total UK Network Coverage
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Old 09-08-2019, 11:48   #1
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Virgin Media Boss Confirms Interest in Total UK Network Coverage

From IspReview

The CEO of Liberty Global, Mike Fries, has lent more weight to reports that sibling Virgin Media UK might be planning to establish an alternative network ISP in order to reach into the 10 million or so premises that their existing ultrafast cable and FTTP broadband network does not serve (e.g. rural areas, suburbs and smaller towns).

Last month saw multiple sources claim that Liberty Global and investment bank LionTree were looking at the possibility of establishing a second Joint Venture (JV) business in the United Kingdom, which would form the foundation of a new ISP with Virgin Media as an anchor tenant on their network. This is apparently nicknamed Project Hermes. Yesterday’s post-results investor meeting did not specifically confirm the existence of Project Hermes but at the same time Liberty Global’s CEO made no secret of how seriously they were taking such an idea (i.e. the c.10 million premises outside of their existing UK coverage).

Mike Fries said:

So let’s just say that we are in the mix as we should be in any discussions about building the next wave of networks outside of where we already have built superfast broadband, we feel like our 15 million homes of 1Gbps ready, going to 10Gbps [in the future], is it for that footprint [Project Lighting].

But beyond that footprint, we’re going to be opportunistic to see if we can put capital to work off balance sheet without consolidating losses and activities. Potentially with partners, just to get Virgin possibly in the Virgin Media brand to a national scale, wouldn’t that be great, if Virgin was a national brand not a regional brand in half the marketplace.

We know our footprint, we generate 50% market share. We beat BT. We beat Sky on footprint, in video and broadband, we know that. If we could extend our footprint potentially using other people’s networks or participating in off balance sheet type network construction, that could be pretty interesting.

So it’s all very preliminary, and its work you would expect us to do. But abiding by the points I made in my remarks, which we’re looking at that opportunity at our capital efficient, optimized free cash flow and largely off balance sheet.
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