O2, Virgin Media sign 4G backhaul deal

Telefonica O2 preparations for the summer launch of 4G have received a boost from a deal to use Virgin Media’s high-speed fiber-optic network to support the service.

The two operators have concluded a ten-year agreement that will see Virgin Media Business connect O2’s base stations to its fiber network using a high-capacity Ethernet service.

Virgin Media (Hook, UK) claims each link will provide a 1Gbps connection between cell site and the aggregation network.

Telefonica O2 preparations for the summer launch of 4G have received a boost from a deal to use Virgin Media’s high-speed fiber-optic network to support the service.

The two operators have concluded a ten-year agreement that will see Virgin Media Business connect O2’s base stations to its fiber network using a high-capacity Ethernet service.

Virgin Media (Hook, UK) claims each link will provide a 1Gbps connection between cell site and the aggregation network.

The effect will be to “supercharge” data speeds for O2 (Slough, UK) customers using forthcoming 4G services like gaming apps and high-definition video streaming, say the operators.

“With our 4G network launching this summer, data growth will only continue to rise and this new fibre agreement with Virgin Media Business will give us the rock solid foundation we need and help us deliver a great network experience for our customers,” said Adrian Di Meo, the chief technology officer for Telefonica O2.

Mobile operators have been examining such ‘backhaul’ arrangements as they introduce more advanced data services supported by higher-speed network technologies.

While some are looking to wireless technologies like microwave, others are relying on high-speed connections provided by the UK’s biggest fixed-line players.

Facing strong competition in this part of the backhaul market from incumbent operator BT (London, UK), Virgin Media says the deal with O2 marks further progress in winning business from mobile operators.

“Over the last two years we’ve secured mobile backhaul contracts with all four of the UK’s major mobile network operators,” said George Wareing, director of mobile and broadcast for Virgin Media Business. “It’s a sign that the backhaul market is moving extremely quickly and thanks to the speed and resilience of our fibre network, we’ve been able to make the most of that opportunity.”

EE (Hatfield, UK), the UK’s largest mobile network operator and a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and France Telecom (Paris, France), is currently the only 4G operator in the country, but all of its rivals are due to launch competing services in coming months, having picked up the necessary frequencies during a spectrum auction in February this year.