Vodafone re-enters broadband market with cut-price fibre
Connect fibre service sports free router and companion app, but expert questions availability
Vodafone has re-entered the UK broadband market it exited in 2011 with a new fibre service, discounted to existing Vodafone users.
Dubbed Vodafone Connect, the service will initially be available to customers in Manchester, Berkshire and parts of Hampshire and Surrey.
Essex, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire will be covered within the next few weeks, the mobile operator said, with the service to roll out to the rest of the country in the autumn.
The fibre broadband tariffs start at 7.50 per month for existing Vodafone mobile customers (rising to 15 after the first year), a deal that offers speeds of up to 38Mbps.
An Ultrafast' option boasts speeds of up to 76Mbps and costs 10 per month, increasing to 20 after the first year.
There is also regular Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service through copper, which provides speeds of up to 17Mbps and costs just 2.50 per month for existing customers, increasing to 5 after 12 months.
Customers will also have to pay a line rental, which costs 16.99 per month and must be taken out on an 18-month agreement.
Customers will get a router that promises to improve connectivity in the home with vectoring and beam forming as well as support for 802.11ac. The router also offers a form of quality of service so that certain devices can get priority over traffic and internet access at certain times of day, labelled Boost.
Another, Beam, is supposed to strengthen the signal in a particular direction to target a certain area in the home.
Users can set up guest Wi-Fi to allow access to other people on a temporary basis, while a companion app will let customers choose when and how devices connect in the home.
"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 chief executive. "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."
However, according to Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, gimmicks such as Boost' and Beam', while innovative and fun, are unlikely to lure customers away from other providers.
"Vodafone is offering a fibre service right off the bat, throwing in a free router, slashing the price by half for the first 12 months and promoting its Easy Switching service - showing awareness that one of the biggest barriers to switching is the fear of being left without any internet at home," he said.
"But although its pricing is competitive, it's not the cheapest and for now, at least, its service is not widely available."
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