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Liberty Global mulling options for fibre build-out

Liberty Global is “gearing up” to present options to potential strategic partners for a planned fibre build out in new areas not covered by its Project Lightning build, and is considering providing wholesale access to that network to third parties, according to CEO Mike Fries.

Liberty Global CEO, Mike Fries

Speaking to analysts after the company presented its latest quarterly results, Fries said that providing wholesale access over the new fibre network was “a [matter of] negotiation in some respects” and a decision would depend on any joint venture partner chosen and on a calculation for the best return to the core business and to third-party investors.

Fries said that “Virgin Media is likely to be the core customer” of a new network build in underserved areas and any access on a wholesale basis would a matter of commercial negotiation. However, he hinted that the company was likely to look favourably on that option in order to maximise the use of the network.

“While we maybe able to penetrate 30% and we have shown that over and over again on our 2.6 million homes we built with Lightning. If you got to 40%, 50%, 60% penetration on that new construction, that’s obviously a better return for everybody.

Liberty has previously indicated that a build out of fibre beyond the areas served by its Project Lightning  would likely involve third-party investors.

Fries also said that Virgin Media had considered opening up its existing HFC cable network to wholesale, but that it was “premature to discuss that today”.

“I think the main focus today is to get the Virgin footprint extended to be the number one broadband platform in that marketplace for the foreseeable future,” he said.