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Vodafone Moots Fibre (FTTx) Broadband Future
By: MarkJ - 27 June, 2008 (9:52 AM)

It's sometimes easy to forget that Vodafone even offers a land-line broadband service in the UK, albeit one based off BT's managed solution. The operator has failed to make much of a name for itself and most recently took a step back from its leading role in Tiscali's impending sale.

However, Vodafone is still Europe's biggest unbundler (LLU) of telephone lines and holds the title of fifth largest broadband provider on the continent. Its UK future may remain uncertain, but the operator continues to push ahead in neighbouring markets.

So, when Vodafone's director of public policy, Richard Feasey, starts talking about fibre (FTTx) broadband deployment, you listen. The following comments were made at yesterdays ECTA conference in Brussels:

"We are beginning to think about fibre... Fibre is the first time we all start again in technology deployment," said Feasey. "The economics look very challenging and it is difficult to find a way to improve the economics. The big issue is whether we can grow ARPU, and we have to believe in big increments. It's really about the way TV is sold and different platforms for HDTV and the constraints [in the form of competition]."

"We need to find economies of scope. If it's [coming from a] stand alone DSL [business] without adjacent services, it looks bleak," said Feasey. "You have to think big market share. We have to believe we can achieve 30% [market share]... That is where the mobile distribution engine comes in. The only one [sector] where we have seen these numbers [for market share in comparison to the incumbent] are in mobile."

"We spend 5 billion euros acquiring customers and selling services. We are looking to apply this mobile sales and distribution engine to fixed broadband."

Vodafone admits that it is still in the early stages of its planning and has nothing concrete to build on just yet, but this is a strong hint of things to come. Unfortunately the UK might not be part of it, with Feasey concluding that they were running out of time with rivals (e.g. Virgin Media) developing faster: "We'll take it as it comes."

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