Vodafone is taking on BT's telecoms dominance with the launch of its own home phone and broadband service today.
Read more: BT takes a shot at Sky with Champions League launch
Vodafone Connect will offer new and existing customers in the UK broadband speeds of up to 76mb with "ultra-fast fibre", as it seeks to put itself ahead in the increasingly cut-throat world of multiplay telecoms.
“To be honest, it’s more of a defensive, reactive move,” Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao told reporters last year, when the mobile provider first revealed plans to muscle in on BT's territory.
“We will follow whatever they [BT] do and the level of aggressiveness in their pricing. Of course, if they come harsh [cheap] on mobile, we will come harsh… The profit pool of TV is big, the profit pool of fixed-line [broadband] is big as well, bigger than mobile,” he said.
The service will be available to Vodafone's UK customers, initially in Manchester, Surrey, Berkshire and parts of Hampshire, then Essex, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire within weeks, with a UK-wide roll out over the summer. Later in the year it will be available to non-Vodafone customers.
Line rental will be priced at £16.99 for both existing and new customers, while broadband will cost between £2.50 and £20.00 per month for those already with Vodafone, including a 12 month introductory offer, or between £10.00 and £25.00 for non-Vodafone customers.
It follows BT's move into mobile with its purchase of EE - a £12.5bn deal which has raised the concerns of the competition watchdog - and increasingly competitive rivalries as a host of companies seek to offer multiplay service combination of broadband, fixed phone, mobile and TV, including Sky and TalkTalk.
"It makes perfect sense for Vodafone to target its core base, as our multiplay survey shows that people are willing to sign up to more services from the same provider. However, articulating the vast array of its innovative features will be challenging and this underlines the importance of its extensive presence on the high street," said CCS Insight's multiplay and video director Paolo Pescatore.
Features on offer include a switching service, a mobile app to control multiple connections across the home and combined billing. Boost lets people assign connection speeds to different devices and Beam boosts signal in specific spots around the house. Pescatore added:
For now, its rivals shouldn’t be too overly concerned, but some may want to offer or market the new features Vodafone has launched such as Boost, the companion app, as well as guest wifi. It is clear that the company needs to turn around its fortunes in the UK and this is a step in the right direction towards offering a converged multiplay service.
"It’s evident that Vodafone has grand plans for bundled services - which are all the rage among telecoms providers right now, said uSwitch's Ewan Taylor-Gibson. “But the multiplay market is already heavily competitive, and gimmicks like 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. But although its pricing is competitive, it’s not the cheapest and for now, at least, its service is not widely available.