Network provider Vodafone has launched the Pro Broadband service, providing further evidence that the key broadband battleground for 2021 could be inside the home.
Designed to offer comprehensive wireless connectivity around the home, the product is designed to reinforce Vodafone’s commitment to take a greater share of the UK broadband market as it pivots away from being a mobile-only operator.
Vodafone says Pro Broadband is designed for the new reality of working, living and playing at home, noting how much UK home broadband users have dramatically changed the way they use services due to the demands of home working. The company says home broadband and Wi-Fi has become an even more critical service, and so it has listened to customers and developed a product that it claims will meet their needs.
Features include broadband backup, which is designed to provide what Vodafone claims is an “unbreakable” internet connection, with the router automatically using Vodafone’s 4G mobile network if the fixed-line connection goes down.
The service also guarantees to deliver Wi-Fi signal into every room of the house by using boosters to reach black spots and people who are not satisfied with their current home Wi-Fi coverage will be offered the opportunity to leave their contract fee-free.
Vodafone is also offering a dedicated team of broadband and Wi-Fi engineers who will proactively monitor and fix customers’ issues and will be in touch within the first 10 days of implementation to make sure the broadband installation is tailored to each customer’s home setup.
Also part of the Pro Broadband package is what is called a “faster fibre promise”, which will see Vodafone customers upgraded for free to full fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) broadband as soon as it rolls out in their street. If this is already available at the customer’s home, they can choose fibre broadband packages with average speeds that Vodafone says will rise to 900Mbps. There are also optional security and entertainment packages based on Apple TV+ and Norton services, respectively.
Max Taylor, consumer director at Vodafone UK, said the company had built Pro Broadband because of customers telling it that fast, reliable and secure connectivity was more important than it has ever been. “Even when there is a return to ‘normal’, their demands for great broadband will continue,” he said.
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Kester Mann, director, consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight, said Vodafone’s launch would “turn heads among rivals” and that although growing organically was a tough ask, it was well timed as consumers review their connectivity needs while the impact of the pandemic rumbles on.
“Pro Broadband includes many similar features to BT’s Halo 3+ offer which launched only a few weeks ago,” he said. “It even uses the same ‘unbreakable’ descriptor as part of its marketing. Going toe-to-toe with the broadband market leader is highly creditable for an operator with a heritage steeped in mobile.
“The big differentiator is price, with tariffs starting at just £35 a month. This 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.”
Paolo Pescatore, founder and technology, media and telecom analyst at PP Foresight, added: “This eagerly anticipated move comes quick on the heels of BT’s Halo 3+, with Vodafone now offering these premium features at more affordable prices, making them accessible to more households.
“This is a big step in removing the main barrier to great connectivity in every household. By integrating more features and services all in one place, it will help accelerate the shift towards convergence. This customer-centric approach will resonate strongly right now.”