Virgin Media O2 owners Telefonica and Liberty Global held early stage discussions with investors on the creation of a new fibre venture in the UK linked to the operator, Financial Times reported, a move which would further increase competition to BT.

The news website reported following informal talks with potential backers for the venture, Telefonica and Liberty Global would step-up attempts to secure funding this week.

While Virgin Media O2 is already in the process of expanding its own fibre network, the floated new project is said to be a direct competitor to BT’s wholesale fibre arm Openreach, with the new network set to be open access rather than tied specifically to the operator.

FT added the companies aimed to connect 7 million homes with the new venture, primarily in areas yet to be upgraded to fibre by Openreach.

Virgin Media O2 was created out of constituent mobile operator O2 and fixed company Virgin Media, with executives from the parent companies regularly stating their intent to step-up competition in fibre and mobile.

Since the merger, the operator made aggressive market moves including bumping data allowances and speeds for swathes of its customers, and retaining a policy of free European Roaming as rivals gradually reintroduce charges.