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Virgin Media awards new network contracts in major revamp

Liberty Global-owned UK service provider Virgin Media has awarded new five-year contracts worth £500 million a year to six contractors to build and maintain its national Gigabit network and is bringing more than 700 customer-facing installation staff and engineers back in-house.

Virgin Media said the new structure, which will be implemented in April, is designed to provide more integrated relationships with partners, with longer-term certainty of work over larger geographic areas.

All visits to homes and businesses will now be carried out by a Virgin Media employed engineer. Previously some in-home visits were carried out by contracted partners.

Virgin Media said that its partners have also been urged to make better use of innovative methods and techniques such as narrow trenching and the use of BT Openreach’s ducts and ensure there is a collaborative approach with local authorities. Incentives and rewards have been put in place depending on the timely delivery and quality of work completed.

The six partners will also be responsible for network assurance as well as cabinet maintenance and emergency restoration services.

The six contractors are: Keir, which is looking after Scotland, South London, the South Coast and South East England; Actavo, covering Northern Ireland; Avonline, responsible for North East and South West England and South Wales; NMCN, in charge of North West England, North Wales, Yorkshire and the East Midlands; Comex, responsible for the West Midlands; and Kelly, responsible for North London, the English Home Counties and East Anglia.

Virgin Media has committed to upgrade its entire footprint to gigabit speeds by the end of 2021, with next-generation connectivity delivered to more than 15 million UK homes.

Rob Evans, MD, network expansion at Virgin Media, said: “These changes are great news for our customers, great news for partners and ultimately fantastic news for the UK as we really focus on building out our gigabit network to more locations. This new regional model gives our partners the certainty, scale and transparency they need and provides Virgin Media with the teams equipped to deliver high-quality build efficiently and effectively with the support of local authorities and communities.”