Press Release

Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 announce network sharing agreement

Thu 4 Jul 2024

Vodafone UK and Virgin Media O2 have announced an extended and enhanced network sharing agreement aimed at improving mobile coverage and service quality across the UK for the next decade.

This agreement builds upon their existing collaboration and is designed to benefit users, businesses, and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) alike.

Key elements of the agreement expand on their current partnership, independent of the outcome of Vodafone UK’s merger with Three UK. However, contingent on the merger’s completion, Virgin Media O2 will acquire spectrum from MergeCo, the entity formed from the merger, thereby establishing three major mobile network operators with better-aligned spectrum holdings.

The agreement is supported by MergeCo’s commitment to invest £11 billion ($14 billion) in its network over the next decade, subject to regulatory approval, along with Virgin Media O2’s annual £2 billion ($2.5 billion) investment in its networks and services.

Agreement to Enhance Competition

This strategic collaboration aims to enhance mobile connectivity, competition, and user choice across the UK. It also ensures that MVNOs, which rely on wholesale partnerships for their mobile services, continue to have access to a robust market with three high-quality wholesale competitors.

“This agreement, alongside our merger with Three, aims to significantly enhance the mobile experience for over 50 million users in the UK. It promises improvements in network quality, coverage, and choice, benefiting both retail consumers and wholesale MVNO users,” said Ahmed Essam, CEO of European Markets at Vodafone.

Essam added the merger and this agreement will aims to promote competition by establishing a strong third player in the UK mobile market and balancing spectrum holdings among operators.

CEO at Virgin Media O2, Lutz Schüler, emphasised the agreement’s focus on enhancing mobile network performance and competition.

“This new agreement with Vodafone ensures that quality mobile network choice, performance, coverage, and competition are enhanced for millions of consumers, businesses, and mobile operator partners nationwide,” said Schüler.

Schüler added the agreement extends and strengthens the company’s existing network sharing arrangements and establishes a robust framework for the long term, contingent upon regulatory approval of Vodafone and Three’s proposed merger.

As part of the agreement, Virgin Media O2 will acquire spectrum at market value from MergeCo, which aims to rebalance spectrum holdings among UK mobile operators. This strategic move is expected to enhance competition by enabling MergeCo and Virgin Media O2 to offer increased capacity, faster speeds, and broader coverage for their users.

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