Vodafone UK and Virgin Media O2 Expand Mobile Coverage

Virgin Media and O2 are transforming the mobile experience with more choice and greater coverage
In an extended agreement, Vodafone & Virgin Media O2 have expanded their network sharing agreement to enhance mobile coverage and services

Vodafone UK and Virgin Media O2 have agreed to extend and enhance their existing mobile network sharing agreement, strengthening quality mobile coverage across the UK and providing improved services for customers. 

The agreement expands on the preexisting arrangement between Vodafone UK and Virgin Media O2 and are independent of the Vodafone UK and Three UK merger outcome. 

The two operators have also agreed that Virgin Media O2 will acquire spectrum from the newly created MergeCo, establishing three scaled mobile network operators each with better alignment of spectrum holding, subject to completion of the merger. 

MergeCo and Virgin Media O2's strategic investments

Vodafone Group is a British multinational telecommunications company, with offices all around the world. It develops a range of leading products and services to connect its customers and work towards building the digital societies of the future.

The company's goal is to keep families, friends, businesses and governments connected, as it plays a vital role in keeping economies running and the functioning of critical sectors like education and healthcare. Currently, it is one of Europe’s biggest and fastest-growing 5G networks.

The company recently opened a Good Grade option for its refurbished phone range, which offers customers savings on new phone models, which have some visible signs of use, such as small scratches, dents or marks on the screen. Customers will be able to choose from a range of Good Grade devices, including iPhone 12, iPhone 13, iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S23.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media O2 has been on a transformation journey. The company was formed in 2021 with the merging of Virgin Media and O2. This has massively expanded the reach and quality of the company’s offering, with every other household in the UK a customer of the company, with its consumer mobile and broadband offerings and its products and services supporting thousands of businesses behind the scenes.

In a combination of MergeCo’s commitment to invest £11bn (US$14bn) in its network over the next decade and Virgin Media O2’s £2bn (US$2.5bn) annual investment in its networks, this agreement will ensure quality mobile connectivity, choice and competition is enhanced. 

This will:

  • Achieve the main company goal of benefiting the companies’ respective customers. 
  • Businesses will make gains, such as Mobile Virtual Network Operators who make use of networks through wholesale partnerships, to provide their own mobile services.
  • Finally, the agreement will also ensure these virtual operators have access to a choice of three high-quality, scaled wholesale competitors, further supporting an already thriving MVNO segment.

Transforming the mobile experience with more choice and greater coverage

Ahmed Essam, CEO, European Markets, Vodafone, said that he was looking forward to providing network improvements for customers. 

“With this agreement and our merger with Three, we will transform the mobile experience for over 50m customers in the UK for the long-term, providing significant network improvements including more choice, better quality and greater coverage across the country,” he said. 

Ahmed was clear that these benefits extend to both retail and wholesale MVNO customers. 

“The proposed merger, together with this agreement, will boost competition by establishing a strong third player in the UK mobile market and will improve the balance of spectrum holdings, levelling the playing field between the UK’s mobile operators,” he added.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said that this fresh agreement would solve many of the problems the company has been experiencing. 

“This new agreement with Vodafone ensures that quality mobile network choice, performance, coverage and competition is enhanced to the benefit of millions of consumers, businesses and our mobile operator partners across the country,” explained Lutz. “We are extending and bolstering elements of our existing network sharing arrangement, while also ensuring there is a robust, balanced and functional structure in place for the long-term should Vodafone and Three’s proposed merger gain consent. 

“We believe that this new agreement addresses the issues we have voiced and the CMA outlined in its initial decision, and will now continue our engagement with the regulator in this spirit.”


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