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UPDATE Vodafone Connect Unveils New UK Home Broadband Packages

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 (8:58 am) - Score 19,193
vodafone connect router

Vodafone has today taken the wraps off their new fixed line home broadband and phone packages, which marks the operators second stab at a notoriously competitive market that they originally quit in 2011. But have they done enough this time to combat BT and the other established ISPs.

In case anybody has been asleep, today’s market for consumer telecoms and TV services is going through somewhat of a dramatic shift towards quad-play style converged services (i.e. broadband, TV, phone and mobile bundles).

As an example of this, BT are currently in the final stages of acquiring mobile giant EE and have since launched their first consumer mobile services (here). Meanwhile Three UK are trying to gobble O2 and on top of all that Sky (Sky Broadband) have also announced their plans to launch a mobile product in 2016 (here).

By comparison Vodafone have quad-play products in other countries, although their proposition for the United Kingdom has until recently remained dominated by mobile. The operator’s previous attempt to offer an affordable home broadband service (Vodafone At Home) died a slow death in 2011 (here), which we’d say failed in part due to a lack of support to keep the product competitive and well promoted.

Historically UK mobile operators have always struggled to make fixed line home broadband products work, often because they’ve tended to treat it as the undesirable offspring. Contrast that with the rich promotions and ever changing products from dedicated fixed line ISPs and it’s easy to see where the problem resides.

Vodafone’s Second Attempt

Never the less Vodafone, under some threat from BT, has decided to take a second stab at this most difficult of sectors and, unlike last time, they now have advantages. In particular the operators prior purchase of Cable & Wireless Worldwide gave them access to both an unbundled (LLU) platform (this already sells broadband and phone services to a number of smaller ISPs) and a major high-capacity national fibre optic network.

As a result it’s little surprise to find that Vodafone are using both of the above aspects to help fuel their new packages under the Vodafone Connect branding, although these will still be fundamentally based upon the usual ADSL2+ and FTTC (VDSL2 / VULA) style broadband products that other ISPs on BTOpenreach’s network also take.

ISPreview.co.uk understands that Vodafone will connect their existing fibre broadband network to around 1,000 of BT’s parent telephone exchanges to reach roughly 80% of the country by this summer. “We will be putting in our routers at the VDSL [FTTC] parent exchanges,” said a Vodafone spokesperson to ISPreview.co.uk. It’s a broadly similar approach to that of Sky Broadband and TalkTalk.

The Vodafone Connect Packages

So what packages are consumers being promised and are they any good? Apparently customers will be able to choose from three options- Ultrafast Fibre Broadband (up to 76Mbps), Superfast Fibre Broadband (up to 38 Mbps) or Broadband ADSL (up to 17 Mbps).

Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone UK, said:

This is a really exciting move for Vodafone in the UK as we move our business into a new phase. 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.

Our significant investment is creating hundreds of new jobs over the next couple of years. 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.”

On top of that Vodafone will celebrate the launch of Vodafone Connect and thank their existing mobile customers for their loyalty by giving them a £5 discount off the standard broadband price every month and for the first 12 months it will be further discounted to half price.

In addition, Vodafone Red (pay monthly mobile) customers will also get inclusive calls anytime to landlines, plus 300 free minutes to mobile numbers. And every customer gets inclusive evening and weekend calls, plus discounted Sure Signal units to boost mobile coverage indoors if necessary.

Take note that all of the packages below require customers to also take Vodafone’s own Phone Line Rental, which costs from the equivalent of £13.59 per month when pre-paid for a year in advance or £16.99 as a standard monthly charge. Plus you’ll pay a £30 activation fee for “fibre” and or £60 if you need a new phone line installed. A £6.99 router delivery fee also applies.

Broadband ADSL
* Download speeds of up to 17Mbps (2Mbps uploads)
* Unlimited usage
* Free evening & weekend calls (landline)
* F-Secure SAFE online security (free for 6 months and then £39.99 a year)
* Free Vodafone Connect router (worth £130)
* 18 month contract

PRICE (Existing Voda Customers): £2.50 per month for 12 months (£5 thereafter)
PRICE (New Voda Customers): £10 per month

Superfast Fibre Broadband
* Download speeds of up to 38Mbps (10Mbps uploads)
* Unlimited usage
* Free evening & weekend calls (landline)
* F-Secure SAFE online security (free for 6 months and then £39.99 a year)
* Free Vodafone Connect router (worth £130)
* 18 month contract

PRICE (Existing Voda Customers): £7.50 per month for 12 months (£15 thereafter)
PRICE (New Voda Customers): £20 per month

Ultrafast Fibre Broadband
* Download speeds of up to 76Mbps (20Mbps uploads)
* Unlimited usage
* Free evening & weekend calls (landline)
* F-Secure SAFE online security (free for 6 months and then £39.99 a year)
* Free Vodafone Connect router (worth £130)
* 18 month contract

PRICE (Existing Voda Customers): £10 per month for 12 months (£20 thereafter)
PRICE (New Voda Customers): £25 per month

Sadly Vodafone Connect will initially ONLY be offered to existing Vodafone UK customers in Manchester, Berkshire and parts of Hampshire and Surrey followed by Essex, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire in the next few weeks, which seems like an odd move if you’re planning to take on an established market.

The operator will however be rolling out to the rest of Vodafone’s UK customer base later in the summer, at which point customers will be able to buy the service over the phone or at any one of their 500+ stores across the country. Furthermore they expect to launch broadband to NEW customers later in the year (in our view they shouldn’t be delaying this).

As for the bundled router, we’re pleased to report that it sports the latest Gigabit capable 802.11ac spec WiFi and the full features list is as follows.

Vodafone Connect Router Specs
· Chipset : Broadcom 63168/6303
· 4 x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
· 1 x Gigabit Ethernet WAN (RJ45)
· 1 x ADSL2+ / VDSL2 (RJ11)
· WiFi 11ac: 5GHz 3×3 / 11n: 2,4GHz 2×2 dual band concurrent with MIMO and Beamforming
· 2 x USB 2.0
· DDR3 128MB + 256MB NAND FLASH
· ADSL2+ / VDSL2 (incl. vectoring)
· DLNA Certified
· Fibre compatible WAN port
· Unique status LEDs activated by proximity sensor
· Ambient bottom glow shows device status

Take note, the router also includes a companion app that makes it easy to control the devices settings, which also gives you the ability to setup a special “Guest Wi-Fi” network for visitors to your home or set time limits for Wi-Fi availability (“Family Time“). Like more advanced routers you’ll also be able to prioritise traffic to a device on your wireless network and tweak all the usual settings.

Conclusion

Overall the offerings appear to be well balanced, sitting somewhere around what you’d expect to see from BT or perhaps Sky Broadband, but whether or not this will be enough to grow their customer base and make a serious dent in the fixed line market is still an open question.

The new service offers a few surprises, such as in terms of router features and quality, but sadly a TV (IPTV) solution isn’t predicted to follow until later this year, which isn’t the best way to start a quad-play fight. Similarly we would have liked to see Vodafone make their packages available to new customers much sooner.

Rival mobile operator EE also started off their Home Broadband service by offering a discount to existing mobile customers, although the packages struggled to grow until they balanced the pricing for everybody. Vodafone could learn a thing or two from that as they appear to be following a similar path, which will struggle to grow wider interest.

At the end of the day their service is entering into an already well established and crowded marketplace where competition is rife, which means they’re in for an uphill struggle. Never the less history often shows that if you have a good product, promote it feverishly and stay competitive then even a new entrant can find some success.

The early challenge for Vodafone will be in ensuring that they can build on today’s move and hopefully avoid any major complaints about support or service quality, although only time will tell how well they do on that front. But for now the new offers probably won’t have any of the major ISPs quaking in their boots, but they will all be keeping a close eye; especially if they start to see subscribers dripping away to Vodafone.

As a side note Vodafone said they are investing significantly in the programme, which will create more than 400 new jobs in the South East of England and Glasgow, and one day hope to become “one of the UK’s leading providers of consumer communications and entertainment services“.

UPDATE 11:00am

Vodafone has confirmed their upload speeds to us, which we’ve added above. But take note that the upload speeds they’ve given are advertised rather than realistic or typical rates.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark

    It’s certainly in the operators’ interests to sell quad play packages so as to cross-subsidise. However, how many actually buy – do we have that data?

    e.g. for quad play operators how many take one, two, three, four services..

    It’s one thing to sell and want to sell these, but whether people want them is another.

    The naturally cautious part of me wouldn’t actually want all the services from one provider anyway.

    And when I think of say credit cards I would be more inclined to think “Barclaycard” and not “Sainsbury’s Bank” e.g. “go to the source provider not a reseller”.

    • Avatar Hull_lad

      If you have a look at Virgin’s annual report, it goes some way to describing the number of single/dual/triple/quad play customers they have. It’s one of their KPIs, they have made an active choice to manage out ‘low value’ customers (i.e., single or dual play) customers, if they can’t be cross-sold. That’s a major driver behind them selling their virgin.net base.

      Sky’s annual report also does the same – although they don’t sell mobile of course.

      The Ofcom communications market report also has some data around the number of customers that take multiple services from the same provider.

  2. Avatar adslmax Real

    40/10 or 40/2?

    • I’ve already asked their PR team about upload speeds on the 38Mbps service, still awaiting the reply. Probably safe to assume that the 76Mbps package is 19Mbps though.

  3. Avatar DanielM

    it’s worth noting on the C&W LLU they no longer have 3db profiles so your stuck on 6.

  4. Avatar adslmax Real

    Any idea if they will hand over the user name and password so I can use my own router?

    • Avatar JP

      Having seen some information around this project about 6 months ago, Vodafone intends on having the best router on the market. However they also said they would welcome more tech savvy customers who want to use their own setup, in that instance they indicated that those with a third party router would be able to continue using should a customer migrate to them.

  5. Avatar hertford Road

    The Vodafone proposition looks great, especially if you are a Vodafone Red Customer

    However, the sign up process in a Vodafone Branch was really cumbersome – took an hour (you can’t sign up on line) and the Branch person set me up wrong so I lost my home telephone number (despite me stating I wanted to keep it).

    Things got worse, the Vodafone Connect router fell over every time a media device was connected to it. I tried isolating everything but found either when media devices, network drives or more than half a dozen devices were added the device fell over.

    I have undertaken many calls with Vodafone’s technical services and they admit they have been having teething problems but feel its acceptable to keep selling the service. Apparently it works for the majority of users…….

    I have decided to go back to BT which was a nightmare in itself as Vodafone’s installation with BT went wrong somehow – and it took BT’s escalated complaints team to put this right.

    In summary – looked like a great proposition, perhaps my scenario with media devices was’t picked up in Beta testing. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me.

    Maybe they will resolve in time…..

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