Virgin Media Business is to supply backhaul connectivity to the mobile operators Everything Everywhere and Three, the companies have said.
The £100m deal between Virgin and Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL), the network management joint venture run by Everything Everywhere and Three, was announced on Monday. The contract, which should lead to more bandwidth for customers of Three, Orange and T-Mobile, will run for eight years.
Virgin will be supplying MBNL with its E-Sync synchronous 1Gbps Ethernet mobile backhaul service, the only one of its kind in the UK. It will also build 14 regional aggregation networks across the UK to support the 35.2 million customers served by MBNL.
"Mobile data and the increase in smartphone usage is a big growth opportunity for us," MBNL managing director Graham Payne said in a statement. "Working together with Virgin Media Business, the first company in the market to offer this synchronous Gigabit Ethernet service, we will be able to scale for future demand."
According to the statement, the backhaul network will let consumers "push their 3G enabled functionalities from video calling through to mobile TV to the limits". Virgin Media Business managing director Mark Heraghty noted that his company was the only one with a nationwide fibreoptic network, and the MBNL rollout was "just the beginning" of Virgin's E-Sync backhaul deployment.
BT also has a deal with MBNL to supply backhaul until 2013, and told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that that arrangement was unaffected by MBNL's decision to dual-source the connectivity for its services.
"BT's existing five-year contract with MBNL for the provision of managed Ethernet backhaul services is completely separate from the deal that has been signed between Virgin Media and MBNL," BT said in a statement. "In fact, BT did not bid for that particular contract. BT is the largest provider of managed Ethernet backhaul services to the UK mobile sector and continues to enjoy a good customer relationship with MBNL.”
[Note: This blog originally stated that MBNL's deal with Virgin superseded the BT contract. This is not correct, and the story has been amended to reflect this.]