Virgin Media provides backhaul for Three’s 4G – Where could it leave Fibre Broadband?

This makes the third article in a week that TelecomsTech has published about UK network Three, and their rapid-push to hopefully rise from the UK’s smallest mobile operator title.

But our coverage is due; on Tuesday we wrote about a new partnership with the UK’s largest network, EE, resulting in the sharing of infrastructure and £1 billion ($1.63 billion) joint investment into the future.

On Wednesday, we wrote about the company’s surprising inclusion on a letter to Secretaries of State asking for reform of telecoms regulation – giving Ofcom more power to implement important decisions and prevent blockades from other networks’ lawyers.

Today, we’re talking about yet another partnership, but this time with Virgin Media – specifically their business division.

In a five year deal announced yesterday, Three will make use of Virgin Media’s state-of-the-art optical technology to bolster their 4G roll out with greater speed and capacity. It will accomplish this feat through better connections between the company’s 15 aggregation sites; already underpinned by Virgin Media Business via MBNL.

The network’s capacity will be boosted by a future-proofing 300Gb; necessary as more and more customers begin to rely on mobile data to get jobs done, and perform more intensive tasks whilst on-the-move.

George Wareing, sales director, Virgin Media Business, said: “In today’s hectic world, people increasingly demand more from their mobile devices. Far from just making calls, now we want to do everything from browsing the web to streaming video. Being able to meet these demands and connect people to anything at any time is a challenge for today’s mobile operators.

Three recognises this challenge and is doing all they can to safeguard its future services. Through our network, they can meet customer expectations and deliver a fast and consistent connection.”

Bryn Jones, Three’s Chief Technical Officer, said: “Being able to browse the internet and stream videos instantly without buffering has become a minimum requirement for many customers when deciding on their provider.

With the new high-capacity backhaul network from Virgin Media Business we are ready to welcome even more people to the Three family. Regardless of where they are, now all of our customers will receive the best possible experiences when using 4G.”

Yet with real-world download speeds (like the one exampled below) of around 67Mbps download, and 15Mbps upload… Three’s mobile network, which for unlimited data and tethering starts at £17.50/month, trumps Virgin’s High-Speed Fibre Broadband of 30Mbps, and 60Mbps.

To put in perspective - Virgin’s 30Mb Broadband bundle is (currently) £25/month, an upgrade to 60Mb will set you back £30/month. On the face of it many consumers will be questioning whether they should simply stick to the versatility, speed, and cheaper packages offered by Three…

A Virgin Media Business spokesperson said:

"We believe that fixed and mobile broadband are complementary - keeping people connected inside and outside the home. And superfast fibre broadband comes into its own when several people in a household go online at the same time, connecting multiple devices and streaming huge amounts of data. So kids can do their homework or download  their favourite music at the same time as their parents browse online or stream the latest blockbusters."

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