- Vodafone has produced a converged fixed/mobile package to match broadband rival BT
- It's very much a response to the need for 'unbreakable' data services for work and schooling as UK consumers continue to weather the pandemic
Vodafone UK has joined BT in what appears to be an emerging market for ‘unbreakable’ broadband - that’s to say, a wired broadband connection underpinned by a mobile broadband connection that swings into action when - and only when - the wired or fibre broadband goes down.
The move is a natural convergence play for Vodafone, which is pushing hard to get a reasonable share of the UK broadband market and then hold onto it as competitors - established and otherwise - vie on price and features, encouraged by the regulator who tends to make switching providers progressively easier for consumers.
Offers with a convergence component should make customers stickier since to drop the bundle in favour of separates entails hassle.
The package’s big differentiator is price,” says Kester Mann, Director of Consumer and Connectivity at CCS Insight. “With tariffs starting at just £35 per month it could put pressure on BT’S premium positioning as UK consumers seek affordable deals in challenging economic times. It may also force broadband heavyweights Sky and Virgin to bolster their offers too.”
He says Vodafone is still a minority player in an established broadband market. Growing organically is a tough ask, but this offer is well-timed as consumers review their connectivity needs while the impact of the pandemic rumbles on
Will Pro Broadband be worth it for users?
Like any bundle, a price deconstruction will probably show that a disaggregation can be made to come in cheaper than the bundle, but that of course comes with all the hassle and extra complexity of choosing separate components and then weighing the value of the optimum broadband tier against that.
The more important calculation, agrees Kester Mann, must be whether and to what extent Vodafone (and other providers) are able to wrap this offer into a business package. “Yes, it has all the hallmarks of the sort of converged service that could get traction with corporates,” says Mann. After all, working from home was considered a perk pre-2020 and users were happy to arrange their own technology to do it. As it becomes seen as a requirement for the job, the responsibility for providing a reliable and, above all, secure solution for home working will start to fall on the employer.
That approach is seemingly hinted at by Max Taylor, Consumer Director, Vodafone UK, who says in the press release, “Our customers tell us that fast, reliable and secure connectivity is more important than it’s ever been, and even when there is a return to ‘normal’ their demands for great broadband will continue.”
Vodafone Pro Broadband comes with what it calls ‘Super WiFi’ to cover all the rooms in the home; a team of ‘Wi-Fi Xperts’ on hand to assist with difficulties. Like BT with its Halo offer Vodafone claims it will monitor he broadband line in order to pre-empt problems as they arise, although the system probably can’t detect when a mechanical digger is about to chop through the cable.
And as regards security, it includes a Norton security package for anti-virus protection and parental control - free for the first 12 months, and then half price for the next year.
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