Virgin Media's fiber network will provide link services for Three 5G infrastructure, covering more than 3,000 sites across the UK.
The backhaul describes the physical connection between the base station and the operator's core network. In the 5G era, fiber backhaul is essential if operators are to manage the expected increases in mobile traffic and electrical services that require ultra-low latency.
Putting the right bandwidth in place eliminates bottlenecks and improves the customer experience.
Virgin Media says its network will provide “near-limitless” bandwidth for Three 5G and that it will establish full fiber connections to busy sites in cities.
The densification of the network will allow 5G to realize its potential and will require the deployment of small cells that can provide high speeds and capacity. This micro-infrastructure will be based on fiber.
Three uses a combination of link providers, including BT, CityFibre and SSE Enterprise Telecoms. The addition of Virgin Media to the mix is significant because it suggests a new democratization of a market traditionally dominated by BT.
“We are building the high-capacity fiber optic backbone that will link mobile phone antennas and cellular sites across the country and power the future of 5G in the UK,” said Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business.
“With a strong network and qualified engineers already in place, our infrastructure will help mobile operators to deploy their 5G network on a large scale. Virgin Media Business is quickly becoming the link bastion for the deployment of 5G. “
Last year, Virgin Media entered into an “extended wholesale agreement” with Vodafone and also provides link services to other operators and resellers who directly supply mobile operators. Overall, Virgin Media claims to handle more than two-fifths of the UK’s voice and mobile data traffic.
This proportion will increase with the agreement of Three and could increase further if a joint venture with O2 materializes. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Liberty Global and Telefonica, the parent companies of Virgin Media and O2, were discussing a possible merger of their British assets.
An agreement would mean that only EE, which belongs to BT, would be beyond the reach of Virgin Media.