Virgin Media has connected 335,000 mobile subscribers to its 5G service in just three months as the company announced its best quarterly growth for more than two years in the first quarter of 2021.
The 5G service was launched on January 25, and Virgin Media does not charge customers for using 5G on multiple monthly pay and SIM-only packages. This means that anyone with a compatible handset can use the fastest speed available.
One reason why Virgin Media replaced EE with Vodafone as its Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) partner as early as 2019 was that it could launch 5G as soon as possible. Although EE launched 4G in late 2012, it was not until November 2016 that Virgin Media customers gained access to the latest speeds.
The launch of 5G and continued investment in the fixed network will have a direct impact on subscriptions. In terms of new customers, Virgin Media attracted 52,000 new mobile phone customers – a record for the first quarter – while its broadband base grew by 43,000, up 310% from a year earlier. More than a quarter of all broadband customers also have a mobile contract, which helps Virgin’s convergence strategy.
Underlying this demand is the need for a more reliable and faster connection during a pandemic. Data consumption will increase by 40%, and almost all customers will take packets of 100Mbps or faster.
The Virgin Media network is now available to 15.4 million households, in more than half the country, and gigabit speeds are now 46%. Virgin Media plans to cover its entire footprint by the end of the year.
Combined with the increased demand for home office and business connections caused by the pandemic, net sales increased 1.4% to £ 1.27 billion. However, profitability fell 1.9% to £ 507 million due to other costs.
“We have achieved the past year this year, maintaining the momentum seen in 2020 and producing expensive results,” said Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media.
“The demand for our services has never been clearer. Continued investment and innovation led to the strongest additions to our customers in the first quarter of 2017, a record low Q1 cable change, accelerated converged package growth and 300 percent growth in new broadband subscriptions.
“Strong mobile phone sales growth, coupled with strong B2B top-notch growth, best boosted our overall revenue in the nine quarters. This is combined with continued investment in gigabit network expansion, digital transformation and customer service – all important factors in building a stronger and more agile business for the future.”
Virgin Media hopes to merge with O2 later this year, when the UK competition authorities found no reason to block the proposed £ 31bn deal.
The combination of O2’s mobile infrastructure and Virgin Media’s cable network will immediately create one of Europe’s largest telecommunications organizations, providing communications to nearly 40 million subscribers. The merger would also lead to savings of £ 6.2 billion and provide the scale and ability to compete with BT and Vodafone in converged online services.