Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp defended the company’s strategy to focus on content rather than achieving high network speeds, and said strong signals were more important than extensive 4G coverage, in an interview on the company’s blog.
The interview comes just a few days after EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, announced that it now has 7.7 million 4G customers and 80 per cent population coverage with a target of 98 per cent by end-2015. Vodafone, on the other hand, has population coverage of 50 per cent, and said it has different priorities.
“It’s not about who’s got the most coverage, it’s more about having the strongest signal” and “great indoor coverage”, said the CEO.
According to Hoencamp, Vodafone doesn’t want to expand the network quickly, which it believes would result in a “thin and flimsy network” but rather go at a slower pace, turning on 4G only “when we have built or updated enough sites.”
“We could build a network just to achieve massive speeds,” Hoencamp explained, “but the reality is that you don’t currently need anything beyond 20Mb/s on a mobile device. So we think less about absolute speed and more about using that bandwidth to enable more customers to enjoy great content on the move.”
Explaining the importance of content, he said it “is the real driver of what people do and care about. Customers shouldn’t worry or care about the latest back end technology.”
This narrative is similar to the one it started off with in 2013 when it first launched LTE. There was a clear emphasis on the content that users can access through deals it had struck with Spotify and Sky Sports.
Currently, customers choose from NOW TV Entertainment, Sky Sports Mobile TV and Spotify Premium as part of their contract.
“Our 4G entertainment packs are massively successful for the simple reason that customers don’t buy 4G for the latest technology – they switch to Vodafone 4G because there’s particular content they want to access,” he commented.
As for future plans, Hoencamp said Vodafone will “add more content partners, and there will be new technologies overlaid which will make the network even better, and even faster. It’ll never stop.”