Economic impact of Virgin owner’s European broadband network reaches €7bn

31 May 2017

Lighting up Europe. Image: capitanoseye/Shutterstock

Liberty Global’s European cable broadband investment has had a major impact on the continent’s economy.

Virgin Media’s parent company Liberty Global invested heavily in broadband in Europe between 2013 and 2017, and this is estimated to have had an economic impact worth €7bn to the European economy.

Independent research by economists Oxera Consulting concluded that this came in the form of higher connectivity, improved productivity, greater price competition and social benefits.

‘With the digital economy expanding seven times faster than the rest of the economy, high-quality broadband networks are critical’

The economic impact is broken down into €5bn worth of speed benefits, €1.5bn in productivity benefits through increased output of small businesses and home workers, and €536m in price benefits and competition.

Oxera estimates that the €14.5bn investment by Liberty Global between the beginning of 2013 and March 2017 has generated a total of €23.7bn of economic transactions through the supply chain.

“With the digital economy expanding seven times faster than the rest of the economy, high-quality broadband networks are critical,” said Enno Eilts, partner at Oxera.

“As well as providing consumers with communication and entertainment services, fast and reliable broadband increases the productivity of businesses, and provides individuals with access to substantial information and learning resources.”

Liberty Global is the world’s largest cable TV and broadband company. Chaired by John Malone, the company owns Virgin Media in Ireland and the UK.

Locally, Virgin Media has been quite acquisitive, buying up TV3 in 2015 and UTV in the past year.

The first leg of Virgin Media’s Voom start-up competition kicks off in Dublin today (31 May 2017).

Gigabit vision

The Oxera report follows the November 2016 launch of Liberty Global’s GIGAWorld initiative, which outlines the company’s plans to bring 1Gbps internet speeds to the European countries in which it operates.

Around 50m homes in Europe have access to Liberty Global’s fibre-based ‘GIGAReady’ networks, and the company expects millions more to be connected over the coming years through its previously announced network extension programmes.

“GIGAWorld is our mission to build robust, reliable, super-fast networks that can not only meet the connectivity and speed demands of consumers today, but also support the next-generation devices and applications of tomorrow that will fuel even greater demand,” said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries.

“Our significant investment clearly has a positive impact for consumers and businesses across Europe, and we are proud that it simultaneously generates billions for the economy, while creating clear social benefits through improved speed, productivity and competition.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years