Vodafone hopes subsidised fibre and “innovative” router and companion app will win subscribers in crowded market
Vodafone’s home broadband service will be available to its UK customer by the end of the summer, with other users able to sign up for fibre speeds of up to 76Mbps later this year.
The company first announced plans to enter the market late last year as it seeks to keep up with rivals in a converging communications market which can offer ‘quad play’ packages of landline, broadband, mobile and television services.
Vodafone Connect makes use of the company’s business cable network, which it acquired from Cable & Wireless in 2012, and the open-access BT Openreach network, giving it a fibre footprint of 20 million homes and businesses.
The app, available for iOS and Android, shows which devices are connected to the network, can set up a guest network for visitors, set time limits for certain family members and give priority to a particular device for up two hours. The router also uses beamforming technology to deliver a stronger signal to compatible machines.
Customers in Manchester, Berkshire and parts of Hampshire and Surrey can receive Vodafone Connect immediately, with Essex, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire to be covered within the next few weeks. All existing Vodafone customers will get £5 off all packages and will only pay half price for the first 12 months, excluding their line rental.
“This is a really exciting move for Vodafone in the UK as we move our business into a new phase,” said Jeroen Hoemcamp, Vodafone UK CEO. “We’re looking forward to bringing our consumer customers the benefits of our experience in providing fixed and mobile services, both here in the UK and elsewhere around the world.”
“We are looking forward to the year ahead, including our move into offering TV services, as one which will prove to be a step-change in our customers’ lives.”
Vodafone has invested heavily in fixed infrastructure across Europe, building fibre networks in Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Ireland and acquiring Spanish cable provider Ono and Kabel Deutschland in Germany.
It hopes the investments will allow it to compete with rival quad-play players across Europe, increase revenue, foster customer loyalty and limit the damage from any fall in mobile revenue.
However the firm is also investing £19 billion into its 2G, 3G and 4G infrastructure, a programme which appears to be paying dividends after a difficult few quarters.
Further acquisitions could be on the cards however. Last week Vodafone confirmed it was involved in talks with US cable giant Liberty Global about a possible “asset exchange”, sparking speculation Virgin Media was in the operator’s sights.