Virgin Media O2 Unveils First Electric Van To Help Improve UK Charging Infrastructure

  • Virgin Media O2 has unveiled the first electric vehicle (EV) in its new fleet, as it announces plans to install EV charging points at all its fleet drivers’ homes
  • The company has ordered 280 electric vans as a first step towards moving its 4,300-strong fleet to EVs by 2030
  • Through its ‘dig once’ approach with Liberty Charge (deploying charging points at the same time as fixed and mobile networks) the company is working to supercharge the rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure across the UK

London, 10th November 2021: To coincide with Transport day at COP26 in Glasgow, Virgin Media O2 is today unveiling the first of its new electric vehicles (EVs), as it works to transition its entire fleet to EVs by 2030. Alongside the new zero-emission vehicles, the business is also committed to supporting the rollout of EV charging infrastructure nationwide, offering free charging points to its fleet drivers and continuing to deploy charging points alongside its fixed and mobile network rollout across the UK.

This first step towards Virgin Media O2’s 2030 EV fleet goal has seen the business order 280 new Vauxhall e-Vivaros to carry out service and install visits at customers’ homes nationwide. It will continuously review its fleet and look to transition to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) as quickly as possible to support a greener economy.

Drivers of Virgin Media O2’s 4,300-vehicle fleet will also be offered charging points in their own homes as part of the move. This will enable them to charge their new electric vans overnight and contribute to a cleaner future for UK transport. Virgin Media O2 already offers EV charging for employees at its Slough, Reading and Hammersmith office sites.

Building better EV charging infrastructure

Since 2020, Virgin Media has been working with Liberty Charge (a joint venture between Virgin Media O2 joint owner Liberty Global & Zouk Capital) to install EV charging points alongside its existing infrastructure and ongoing network build programme, and support the transition to EVs. Liberty Charge and Virgin Media O2 are continuing to work together to assess where they can follow a ‘dig once’ strategy – deploying fixed and mobile solutions at the same time as EV charging infrastructure. As well as streamlining the installation process and making it more convenient for all, this helps create the foundations for the smart-city networks of the future.

Tracey Herald, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at Virgin Media O2 said: “With a fleet of 4,300 vehicles visiting millions of homes and businesses every year, we have a responsibility to swap to cleaner, more sustainable alternatives as soon as possible. I’m proud that we’re introducing the first EVs to our fleet, and giving our valued field engineers access to the charge points they need to keep moving.

“The only way to encourage businesses and the public to make the switch to EVs in time for the UK’s 2050 net zero target is by making vehicle charging points widely available and accessible to all. We’re eagerly anticipating the Government’s EV strategy and plans for wider infrastructure rollout, and together with Liberty Charge, we’re committed to using our expanding national network and street furniture to help put charging points where they need to be – and drive the UK towards net zero.”

Neil Isaacson, CEO of Liberty Charge adds: “At Liberty Charge, our goal is to tackle the chronic under-supply of easily-accessible on-street charging in the UK and help councils meet the very clear public need of the millions of households who need reliable, cost effective EV charge points close to their home. As our delivery partner, Virgin Media O2 is instrumental to this goal – deploying the infrastructure required and working with local authorities to overcome any delivery obstacles faced. And it doesn’t stop there: by the end of the year, our Charging Network will be operational in 6 local authorities, with more than 500 sockets open to the public and with many, many more to come in 2022.”

Supporting cleaner transport for the future 

Virgin Media O2 is committed to using its digital capabilities to help reduce transport emissions and contribute to the UK’s net zero future. Working with the Smart Mobility Living Lab, it is supporting the development of 5G Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) which use connected sensors and stream information from one vehicle to another via the 5G Network in real-time.

5G-connected vehicles cut carbon by allowing for reduced idling, as well as route planning to avoid the most polluted and congested areas. They also enable smarter driving patterns such as lower acceleration rates and platooning (where two vehicles follow each other closely to reduce aerodynamic drag).

As part of its trials, O2 has converted two Renault TWIZY electric cars into CAVs and fitted them with LIDAR sensors, to allow autonomous driving as well as remote control at slow speeds. One of these test vehicles is on display at COP26 – with a simulator experience to give users the opportunity to see, hear and feel what it is like to become a passenger in a 5G-powered CAV.

ITV And Virgin Media O2 Agree Long Term Commercial Partnership

ITV and Virgin Media O2 have today signed a new long term multi-year agreement that delivers deeper integration of ITV programming, support for IPTV, enhanced advertising capabilities and continued access to ITV’s vast range of channels and on-demand services for Virgin TV customers.

The new agreement, which lasts over five years and signals a new commercial relationship between the two companies, includes full integration of the ITV Hub platform onto Virgin TV set-top boxes. This enables viewers to seamlessly search for and watch all of ITV’s ever-growing selection of available programmes, including more full series than ever, on-demand directly from within the ITV Hub – which currently has 34.8 million registered users. A range of new features including programme start over and cloud recording will also be introduced for some Virgin TV customers in future.

This full integration of the ITV Hub platform also brings increased benefits to advertisers through Planet V, ITV’s innovative programmatic addressable advertising platform. Planet V allows both advertisers and agencies control over the planning, purchasing and reporting of their campaigns on ITV Hub, building audiences with first party data and augmenting those audiences with advertisers’ own data.

Looking ahead, ITV’s live channels and the ITV Hub will also be available through Virgin TV’s upcoming IPTV service when it fully launches in early 2022 – the service will offer a seamless app and streaming-based experience powered by the company’s leading ultrafast and gigabit connectivity.  Building further upon the benefits to advertisers under this agreement, ITV will also be able to offer linear addressable advertising via IP delivery through the Planet V platform.

ITV’s wide range of much-loved programmes and content across various genres will receive enhanced prominence across all Virgin TV interfaces, and bespoke curations of content will be made available within the catch-up sections of the provider’s platform. This will help viewers easily discover, access and watch the latest and greatest ITV shows all in one place.

Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, said:

“This extended and enhanced commercial agreement brings benefits to both ITV’s viewers and advertisers and the work that Virgin Media O2 is doing to develop its IP proposition advantages both those groups.

As Planet V continues to grow at scale, we’re able to deliver addressable advertising via the fully integrated ITV Hub on the great platform that Virgin Media O2 continues to evolve via both on-demand and linear viewing. Plus our viewers are able to access ITV’s fantastic range of programming more easily than ever before with an enhanced viewing experience.”

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said:

“We have been a longstanding partner of ITV for many years and this new agreement further cements our relationship. It paves the way for future product innovation and delivers more for our customers and our business, as well as enhancing the toolkit available to advertisers.

“Our focus in TV is all about providing incredible entertainment to our customers in a seamless way underpinned by the very best connectivity. As we continue to invest and innovate, having ITV’s vast selection of must-watch programming fully integrated and easily accessible plays a huge part in giving our customers a fantastic experience both now and in the future.”

Virgin Media O2 Announces Significant 4G And 5G Boost – Including Holiday Hotspots In The UK

Ahead of what is expected to be a record staycation summer for the UK, Virgin Media O2 has announced a massive boost to its 4G and 5G mobile network, with a focus on rural and tourist hotspots.

  • Virgin Media O2 has provided a 4G upgrade to over 31,300 postcodes since the start of the year in a drive to boost connectivity around the country.
  • Ahead of the Staycation summer, almost 600 cell sites have also been upgraded across coastal & tourist hotspots, with many locations having outdoor 5G network connectivity installed, such as Edinburgh Castle, the V&A Museum and Bournemouth Pier.
  • This comes as the operator has started to roll out its new 5G low band spectrum, further widening its 5G footprint and strengthening indoor penetration.
  • Remote working has seen a surge in demand for 4G in rural tourist areas, with new research showing 1 in 5 Brits are considering a ‘rural working break’ in the UK, as a change of scenery.

The network voted UK’s best for mobile reliability and coverage has delivered a 4G boost in 31,300 postcodes in 2021 so far – and upgraded almost 600 cell sites at the nation’s favourite tourist destinations and seaside areas since last summer, such as Bognor Regis, Bath, Falmouth, Plymouth, Cambridge and Stirling.

Virgin Media O2 has also continued to roll out its 5G network, focusing on strengthening its 5G coverage in towns and cities while introducing the next generation network to tourist hotspots such as:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Bournemouth Pier
  • Tynemouth
  • King Edwards Bay
  • Llandudno West Shore.

Also benefitting from new outdoor 5G connectivity are a range of museums and galleries, including the V&A Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, the Mary Rose Museum, York Castle Museum and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Following Ofcom’s 5G Spectrum Auction in spring, Virgin Media O2 now has more low band spectrum than anyone else, providing the opportunity to potentially have the largest 5G coverage footprint in the UK, supporting more people, businesses and devices.

The announcement comes as new research commissioned by Virgin Media O2, conducted by YouGov found that over half (57 per cent) of Brits are planning to holiday in a remote area of the UK for a staycation this year. To meet these customer needs, Virgin Media O2 is investing more than ever in its network to improve coverage and experience as it upgrades the UK.

Staycation selfies drive data demand

Virgin Media O2’s improved 4G network and expanded 5G network comes just in time for the summer holidays. In the first week of May, as lockdown eased, its network carried approximately 55% more peak hour data than it did in the same week last year.

The network also carried the most amount of data traffic ever to support the all English Champions League Final in May.

The appetite to stay connected will remain whilst away, with research showing a quarter (23 per cent) of Brits planning on posting about their staycations live on social media, and a third (32 per cent) of holidaymakers planning to keep in contact whilst out and about with friends and family.

Supporting the rise of rural workers

Virgin Media O2’s latest polling also shows that it’s not just holidaymakers who’ll be making the most of this boosted connectivity – 1 in 5 (19 per cent) workers are considering a ‘nomadic working’ break this summer where they will work remotely whilst travelling or at a location out of their home. The rollout and improvement of the mobile network in rural areas of the UK is especially important to support this group of flexible workers.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: 

“After a year like no other, we know how important it has been to stay connected. That’s why we’re committed to providing our customers with reliable connectivity all across the UK – as shown by our £448m investment on newly released spectrum – to increase capacity in our network and power the technology of the future, as well as spearheading the Shared Rural Network.

“Whether you’re a holidaymaker heading off for a sunny staycation, a rural business or someone living and working in a remote area, we’re doubling down on 4G to ensure network capacity is deployed where it’s needed most. The numbers speak for themselves, with over 31,300 postcodes receiving a 4G network upgrade this year, hundreds of tourist hotspots boosted and a real focus to improve our 5G experience where people need it most.”