UK mobile phone customers on Orange, T-Mobile and Three are set to receive faster mobile Internet access, thanks to a new partnership with Virgin Media Business and Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL), which will access widened to Virgin’s fibre optic network.

Virgin Media Business has announced a £100m+ deal with MBNL which will see the UK’s first synchronous Ethernet mobile backhaul service, enabling customers of Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) and Three to benefit from super-fast access to mobile data on the move.

MBNL is a 50/50 joint venture company owned by Everything Everywhere and Three, and it was formed following the network consolidation agreement between Three and T-Mobile UK, signed in 2007. MBNL manages and delivers the combined 3G access networks of the two companies, and the deal with Virgin Media Business will help it support the explosion in data traffic, as well as lay the foundations for a transition towards 4G.

Virgin Media Business will build 14 regional aggregation networks across the UK to improve MBNL’s bandwidth capacity, which should give users on these three networks speedier mobile Internet, and will mean features such as video calling and mobile TV will be much improved for many users.

Orange, T-Mobile and Three have a combined customer base of 35.2m, so this deal will benefit a large chunk of the UK’s mobile population who use data-hungry applications such as video streaming.

It’s thought that data traffic in the UK will increase by more than 30 times over the next decade, and mobile operators are under increasing pressure to deal with the surge in mobile data. Mark Heraghty, Managing Director at Virgin Media Business, said:

“The mobile sector represents a compelling commercial opportunity for our business. As the only company with a nationwide fibre optic network, we can leverage that asset for all mobile network operators in the UK. This is just the beginning of our deployment and as we roll out this mobile backhaul proposition, operators will increasingly look to us as the best solution for handling the exponential growth of mobile data.”

Virgin Media Business is the largest B2B brand in the Virgin Group, and it has the UK’s only nationwide fibre optic network, which carries 35% of all business broadband traffic.