Will EE turn to Virgin Media or BT to power its superfast fibre-optic service?

(ed : We've got a comment from one of our peers which we are publishing verbatim and confirms that BT rather than Virgin Media will provide the service. The only national UK telecoms operator able to do EE's promised 80Mbps service to 66% of the UK by 2014 is a BT based platform. As to whether their home service will be VULA FTTC/P or standard BT Wholesale style I'm not sure. In any case both methods will come via BT's network."

Virgin Media has confirmed that it is currently holding talks with EE about the possibility of piggybacking on its potentially monopolistic 4G bandwagon by the end of 2012, and there is good reason to believe that the discussions will bear their fruits sooner rather than later.

Firstly, Virgin Media already has a partnership with EE's parent firm, Everything Everywhere. In fact, it's Everything Everywhere's biggest mobile network virtual operator and adds more than 1.64 million subscribers to the firm's user base. So allowing Virgin Media to provide 4G services would be a nice additional revenue earner for EE and would help tighten its early stranglehold on the market.

Reports about Virgin Media trialling 4G technology emerged earlier this year although it is still not obvious whether EE will be its only partner.

Secondly, Virgin Media may be willing to use its nationwide fibre-optic network to help to convince EE to allow it to use its 4G spectrum. Back in September 2011, Virgin signed an eight-year contract worth £100 million to provide superfast data connections to Mobile Broadband Network Limited, a joint venture between Everything Everywhere and Three.

It is therefore not impossible that Virgin Media has signed - or will sign - a contract to provide fibre-optic connections to Everything Everywhere's landline customers. The reciprocal deal would see Everything Everywhere become a landline virtual network operator, much like the arrangement BT Openreach currently has with the likes of Claranet and Talktalk - although at least one report says that BT, not Virgin, will provide the backend infrastructure.

Back in 2010, we published an article listing four reasons why Virgin Media should launch a Wi-Fi network, and the same arguments could also be used for 4G. Of course, Virgin Media now offers a fairly extensive Wi-Fi service, including offering connectivity throughout the majority on the London Underground - the service was free during the summer but now operates on a tariff basis.

Moreover, there have been at least two instances in the past where Virgin Media provided hints that it might open its network to other companies in a bid to bring in more revenue.