UK operator EE has reportedly won a £300 million ($473 million) deal to provide mobile-phone services to Virgin Mobile over a five-year period.
According to a report from the UK’s Financial Times newspaper, the operator secured the agreement despite strong competition from other mobile network operators and is set to make an official announcement later this week.
The deal prolongs the MVNO relationship between Virgin Mobile (London, UK) and EE (Hatfield, UK) and will allow the former to provide mobile services over infrastructure owned by the joint venture between Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and France Telecom (Paris, France).
EE is reportedly focusing more resources on its wholesale operation in response to the growing interest in own-branded mobile services among large consumer organizations.
Indeed, just last week, EE published the details of a similar MVNO deal with Asda (Leeds, UK), which had previously relied on Vodafone’s (Newbury, UK) network to provide its mobile services.
Under that arrangement, EE is also providing WiFi services across Asda’s 568 stores.
“Our decision to take our MVNO business to EE was driven by our ambition to further improve the experience for Asda mobile customers, by taking advantage of a bigger and faster network, with first-class network coverage – and offering even better value,” said Mark Ibbotson, Asda’s retail director, in explaining the company’s decision to move to another operator.
Having been created through the merger of two large national operators, EE appears to have a big advantage over rivals like Telefonica O2 (Slough, UK) and Vodafone when it comes to coverage and network performance.
Although regulatory authorities forced the new company to give up some of its frequency holdings, it still owns far more spectrum in the valuable 1800MHz band than any of its rivals and is using these airwaves to provide high-speed 4G services.
EE is also the only operator that is currently able to provide 4G services on the iPhone, which remains incompatible with the 4G frequency bands used by the UK’s other operators.