Vodafone Group is considering a major investment to beef up its broadband network in the UK, a move that would step up competition with BT and boost its convergence play in the country.
According to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, the company has been testing, in recent weeks, whether it could use BT’s underground ducts and poles to deploy its own fibre optic cables into millions of homes and businesses in the UK.
Vodafone already operates a fixed-line broadband network, but is struggling to gain scale against the likes of Sky and BT, and news of its own fibre play will be welcomed by UK’s Ofcom.
The regulator announced last week it would not split up BT’s Openreach broadband unit, despite pressure from rivals, but instead said it would push reforms to allow rivals to boost fibre infrastructure on top of BT’s network.
Vodafone has made similar plays through investment in other European markets like Spain, Portugal and Ireland. The report adds it does, however, have serious concerns about the validity of such a strategy in the UK.
Such a move would also impact any harbouring hopes that a merger between Vodafone and Liberty Global could yet still surface, after negotiations broke down last year.
Vodafone’s plans to roll out fibre in the UK would, while providing a bigger threat to BT, mean it would not need to combine Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media’s cable business with Vodafone’s mobile offering, a key reason for the deal to occur.
The six week trial was recently completed, adds the Telegraph report, and the findings were fed back to a confidential industry working group.