Vodafone will delay any decision on whether to pursue its quadplay ambitions in the UK until the impact of fixed incumbent BT’s move into the consumer mobile market becomes clear.
Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp was quoted by The Telegraph as saying the company is keeping a close eye on BT’s plans which could dictate whether it introduces home broadband and TV services.
It is understood that BT’s mobile services will be keenly priced as part of a package of services that includes broadband, television and fixed line services, meaning the four UK mobile operators (Vodafone, EE, O2 and 3 UK) may need to respond.
While Hoencamp said the company would respond if needed, he suggested the impact of BT’s entry into the mobile market may not be huge, citing Virgin Media’s limited success in selling quadplay packages, including services provided by its Virgin Mobile MVNO.
He added that Vodafone UK is keeping its options open and won’t go down the quadplay route until it believes there is a market for it. In addition, the Vodafone UK CEO said the company’s purchase of the Cable and Wireless fibre network in 2012 could prove useful in competing with BT.
Hoencamp aims to return Vodafone’s UK business to growth within 18 months, but BT’s entry into the consumer mobile market could mean Vodafone needs to focus on competing more effectively in the mobile market.
Vodafone’s 4G packages are more expensive than rivals, which may have contributed to the operator having a lower market share in the latest-generation mobile broadband market than it does in 3G or 2G services.
Vodafone Group has been pursuing a quadplay strategy, in which it offers mobile and fixed voice, broadband and television services, in other markets.
It acquired Kabel Deutschland for €7.7 billion in October last year and Spanish cable provider Ono for €7.2 billion earlier this year. Most recently, it struck a fibre-sharing agreement with Portugal Telecom, while there is also an ongoing bid with Wind for Greece’s Forthnet.
In April, BT Group’s chief sustainability officer, Niall Dunne, said the UK fixed-line incumbent was looking toward the “back of the year” for a consumer 4G proposition.
BT Business recently unveiled its first 4G mobile plans for UK SMEs, with no premium over 3G data allowances. The 4G service is courtesy of its MVNO agreement with EE, the largest mobile operator in the UK.
BT is looking to make its mobile proposition an extension of its superfast broadband by upgrading its existing Wi-Fi home hubs to use femtocell technology based on the 4G spectrum it acquired last year.