Virgin Media O2, together with its shareholders Liberty Global and Telefónica, is planning to create a separate fixed network company and offer a wholesale alternative to BT Openreach. It says it will provide a platform for potential consolidation of other alternative network providers and establish the biggest dedicated fixed network challenger in the United Kingdom.

The new NetCo will include the cable and fibre network assets of Virgin Media 02, covering 16.2 million premises across the United Kingdom, all to be upgraded to full fibre in the coming years.

The new entity will connect the current Virgin Media 02 customer base through a wholesale agreement.

The company says the structure will play a role in potential altnet consolidation and provide wholesale opportunities as an alternative to BT Openreach.

The initiative will not include the mobile assets of Virgin Media 02. The nexfibre joint venture between Liberty Global, Telefónica and Infravia, will continue to operate separately, focusing on fibre network expansion into new areas.

Between them, Virgin Media 02 and nexfibre now have a full fibre footprint of over 4 million premises, but they expect that to reach up to 23 million homes once the planned fibre build is completed.

Lutz Schüler, the chief executive of Virgin Media O2, said: “This is a logical evolution of our fibre strategy that creates a clear, focused and scaled network entity within the Virgin Media O2 family which underpins our shift to a fully fibre network and reinforces our position as the leading challenger to Openreach in the market.”

VirginMedia 02 no longer reports television or video subscriber numbers in its quarterly or full-year results. It had 5.83 million fixed-line customer relationships at the end of 2023, compared to 5.80 million at the end of the previous year. Of these, 5.7 million customers took were paying for internet access, which is clearly now the main interest for the company.

The chief executive wrote: “We ended the year with stable revenues in line with our revised guidance at Q3, and achieved the low end of our mid-single-digit Transaction Adjusted EBITDA growth guidance through accelerated synergy execution which offset the impacts of consumer spend optimisation.”

Shareholder Liberty Global made almost no mention of television or video in its annual results statement. However, it did announce its plan to spin off 100% of Sunrise. That follows the integration of Sunrise and UPC in Switzerland from 2020. Sunrise will be separately listed on the Swiss stock exchange.

Liberty Global will retain its consolidated interests in Telenet, Virgin Media Ireland, and its joint venture stakes in Virgin Media 02 and VodafoneZiggo.