Cable TV and broadband ISP Virgin Media (Liberty Global) has reportedly been linked by “multiple sources” to a potential acquisition of KCOM, which is the incumbent ISP for the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire area in England.
At present KCOM are in the closing stages of their £85 million “Lightstream” deployment, which aims to ensure that their 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based ultrafast broadband lines are able to cover 96% of their addressable network area (200,000 premises) by March 2019; the remaining 4% will gain 75Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (VDSL2) but may later also be upgraded.
The figure of 200,000 premises is roughly akin to the amount of extra coverage that Virgin Media has been adding to their network every 5-6 months as part of the on-going £3bn Project Lightning network extension. This originally aimed to cover 4 million extra premises by the end of 2019 (early 2020 financial) but has been running behind schedule, due to earlier issues with overstated progress.
Suffice to say that gobbling KCOM might be one way to get back on track, although the Hull provider is fairly different from Virgin’s existing DOCSIS dominated network and is also subject to tougher regulatory controls from Ofcom. The issue of regulation is likely to complicate any acquisition, particularly since Virgin Media isn’t currently required to wholesale out their own services to rival ISPs.
According to The Telegraph (paywall), the alleged discussions are said to be at an “early stage“, which has a tendency to mean that readers should probably take this with a big pinch of salt until either party confirms that talks are indeed taking place. But for now neither Virgin Media nor KCOM have offered any comment on the subject.