Surprise move – Voda is to offer fixed line broadband services for the first time ever, it said yesterday.
The move, in a major departure from Vodafone tradition, means the telco will compete with the likes of Telstra, Optus and iiNet on fixed line Internet service, only ever having offered mobile broadband services, until now.
It also comes as others like Internode have already announced NBN pricing in a tussle to gain customers as roll-out kicks in, and has also beginning fetchtv IPTV trials on the broadband network, which Vodafone says it will do as part of its trial also
The red telco has already been undergoing secret trails in Armidale, NSW where the NBN is already in play and other trials will extend to Kiama, NSW and Brunswick, Victoria.
The telco is trialing a multitude of services, including FetchTV, HD movies on demand and femtocell technology to boast mobile reception in the home/office, called ‘Expand’.
“Vodafone Expand boosts indoor signal strength for Vodafone 3G mobile devices, providing better call quality and mobile internet access,” it said yesterday.
“We are pleased to have connected our first NBN customers and delighted to be providing them with some of the innovation that’s possible with the latest generation of mobile, fixed broadband and TV services,” said Nigel Dews, CEO of Vodafone Hutchison Australia.
The Minister for Broadband, Senator Stephen Conroy, welcomed Voda’s entry into fixed line, saying the (often controversial) $36bn network created a level playing field for new players to compete on Internet services.
“It is terrific to see that a global giant like Vodafone considers the conditions are now right for it to enter the fixed line market in Australia for the first time by connecting customers to the NBN,” Conroy said.
“The NBN’s wholesale only open access network is, for the first time in Australia, creating a level playing field with the ability to attract new entrants like Vodafone.”
Around the world, Vodafone is predominantly a mobiles-only operator and this move was “a first” for the giant in Australia, he added.
Conroy was also quick to defend his beloved broadband network against criticisms of anti-competitiveness, saying:
“Contrary to claims that the NBN is anti-competitive, Vodafone’s decision to enter the fixed line services market demonstrates that structural reform is increasing retail service competition.”
“Attracting a new fixed line operator demonstrates the value of the NBN as an open access, wholesale only provider,” he added.
Vodafone’s move reflected the “complementary nature” of wireless and fixed networks, the minister added, despite the fact several players including Optus and Telstra will be unable to criticise or make “any express adverse statement” on rival NBN services for 15 years, while it competes with the broadband company.