Vodafone has confirmed that it’s talking to Virgin Media’s owner Liberty Global – but denies that a merger is on the cards.
While a deal between Vodafone and Sky was long rumoured to be on the cards, it had now emerged that Vodafone may be about to enter into an exchange of assets with the cable company.
Vodafone said: “Vodafone confirms that it is in the early stages of discussions with Liberty Global regarding a possible exchange of selected assets between the two companies.
“There is no certainty that any transaction will be agreed, nor is there certainty with respect to which assets will ultimately be involved.
“Vodafone is not in discussions with Liberty Global concerning a combination of the two companies.”
This could see Virgin Media’s virtual mobile network using Vodafone’s signal – it current uses EE, which could become part of BT by March next year.
Vodafone is also preparing to launch a home broadband and phone service next year. Details on Vodafone Connect are thin on the ground. It’s thought that Vodafone will use BT’s Openreach network to sell ADSL and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)-based services to customers, but a deal with Liberty Global could see Vodafone Connect use Virgin’s DOCSIS-based network instead.
Then again, the Openreach network reaches around 30 million premises, around 22 million of which can now order superfast services. Virgin’s cable network offers faster services, but only touches around 12.5 premises. Even the ambitious ‘Project Lightning’ programme will only push Virgin Media’s cable footprint up to 16 million homes when completed.
Virgin Media and Liberty Global spokespeople were unable to comment.