(Pocket-lint) – Virgin Media and O2 have merged into one company, now coming under the combined name Virgin Media O2.
However, apart from the name, what does this new coming together actually mean? What impact will it have on existing customers? And what services will Virgin Media O2 offer?
We explain all below.
First announced in May 2020 and ratified by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority a year later, Virgin Media and O2 have now combined in a 50-50 deal to become one communications giant.
The new company is a joint venture between Virgin Media owner Liberty Global and O2 owner Telefónica and has been created to provide a complete package of services: mobile, TV and full-fibre broadband. This enables the firm to tackle BT/EE head-on.
Virgin Media did already offer mobile services, but as an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), which meant it used a different network’s mobile service to connect its customers. It currently uses Vodafone’s network – having originally used EE’s. However, that is now likely to change again.
The deal will likely see the new company expand its connectivity options, including gigabit fibre broadband and 5G. Virgin Media’s CEO, Lutz Schüler, has assumed the same position for the new company.
“With the fastest broadband and most reliable mobile network in the UK today, Virgin Media O2 is the complete package,” he said.
“We are ready to shake up the market and be the competitor the country needs at a time when choice has never been more important. Through investment and innovation in cutting-edge infrastructure and future technology, we will connect more people to the things they love, support communities across the country, help businesses to grow, and power the UK economy.
“With no limit to our ambition, we’re here to upgrade the UK – and our mission starts today.”
What it means to existing O2 and Virgin Media customers
If you are an existing O2 or Virgin Media customer (mobile, TV or broadband) you are unlikely to notice much change initially – at least, beyond the masthead on bills.
However, in the coming months you might be offered wider tariffs and plans that encompass other services – for example, an all-in-one package for cable TV, broadband and 5G.
“While there is no change to existing services today, plans are well underway to offer seamless broadband, entertainment and mobile services all in one place, under one roof, later this year,” said the company in a statement.
Virgin Media Business customers will also likely be offered new, additional services under the Virgin Media O2 Business banner.
In addition, as stated above, it is likely that Virgin Mobile customers will have their network connectivity switched from using Vodafone’s system to O2’s. We’re not yet sure when this might happen, as Virgin Media signed a deal with Vodafone that is meant to run until 2026. It might be that contract continues until it expires.
It could also be the Virgin Mobile customers are offered the chance to switch their contracts to O2 equivalents.
When that happens, you might experience changes in network coverage – especially 5G where different networks currently have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to locations.
O2’s non-mobile home broadband business was bought by Sky in 2013, so this merger will allow the new company to offer fixed-line broadband to O2 customers directly again.
We’ll update when we know more about any new services and changes.
Writing by Rik Henderson.