Vodafone has officially entered into the ‘multiplay’ market of bundled telecoms and internet services in the UK after launching ‘Vodafone Connect’, its new broadband and fixed-line offering to consumers.
The much-mooted launch comes a week after the UK group confirmed it had entered into informal talks with John Malone’s Liberty Global over possibly exchanging assets in Europe.
Liberty Global has built up its cable business in Europe on the premise of offering bundled services, after previously rejecting the approach, and its chief executive Mike Fries reportedly said at a conference just yesterday that packaged services helps to keep subscribers stay loyal for longer.
Vodafone’s UK play was first talked about by CEO Vittorio Colao last November, and the move sees the mobile operator join BT, BSkyB, EE, TalkTalk and Liberty owned Virgin Media in offering bundled communications services.
‘Vodafone Connect’ is available at up to 76Mb/s, and leverages the company’s nationwide 21000km fibre optic backbone network, which it gained as part of its £1 billion acquisition of UK’s Cable & Wireless Worldwide, completed two years ago.
“This is a really exciting move for Vodafone in the UK as we move our business into a new phase,” said Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone UK, in a statement. “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.”
Hoencamp confirmed the company will also look to move into TV services this year, which was part of its plans when it first announced the move.
Mobile operators, including Vodafone and EE, are keen to stem the challenge from BT, which is also planning to launch its own mobile network this year. Vodafone, however, will still have to rely on a wholesale agreement with BT Openreach to provide access to homes.
Colao suggested last year that Vodafone could potentially strike a deal with BSkyB and TalkTalk to build fibre optic infrastructure and launch a separate play altogether.
Analysts, however, speculate that Vodafone could now be most interested in Liberty’s Virgin Media assets in the UK to beef up its fixed offering, which could see it offset its German operations to Liberty as a result.
Vodafone already offers fixed-broadband services across 12 countries in Europe, and its cheapest package for fixed-broadband will cost existing Vodafone mobile customers an extra £5 a month.