3UK, Everything Everywhere boost backhaul to 1Gbps with Virgin Media deal

UK subscribers to 3 and Everything Everywhere will start to see their mobile Internet run faster following a deal between the operators to use a 1Gbps fibre backhaul service from Virgin Media.

The £100 million deal, which will run for eight years, will see Virgin Media provide the operators with access to its E-Sync synchronous 1Gbps Ethernet mobile backhaul service, the first of its kind in the UK. Virgin will also build 14 regional aggregation data centres across the UK to support the combined 35 million mobile customers.

The contract has been signed between Virgin Media and Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL), the network management joint venture run by 3UK and Everything Everywhere, and is in addition to the deal MBNL already has with BT to provide backhaul until 2013.

"Mobile data and the increase in smartphone usage is a big growth opportunity for us," Graham Payne, managing director for MBNL, said in a statement. "Working together with Virgin Media Business, the first company in the market to offer this synchronous Gigabit Ethernet service, we will be able to scale for future demand."

This move by 3UK and Everything Everywhere is being seen as the two operators preparing the groundwork for the backhaul data requirements that LTE will bring, albeit that the deployment of this technology is some years away in the UK.

Commenting on the deal, the managing director for Virgin Media Business, Mark Heraghty, stated that his company is the only one with a UK-wide fibre optic network and that the MBNL rollout is just the beginning of Virgin's E-Sync backhaul deployment.

For more:
- see this Virgin Media press release
- see this ZDNet article

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Operators lobby EU for ability to charge for content delivery
Mallinson: Long-term forecasting for mobile broadband with HSPA and LTE
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