Vodafone extends home broadband service to rest of UK

Vodafone extended its home broadband and voice service to the rest of the UK, making good on its promise to open up the service to all UK consumers in the autumn.

When it was first launched in June, Vodafone Connect -- now apparently rebranded as Vodafone Broadband, with the 'Connect' name used for a companion mobile app and the home router -- was available only to existing Vodafone customers in Manchester and parts of Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, with plans for an imminent rollout in Essex, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire.

Now, Vodafone Broadband and home phone services are available across the UK to both existing and new customers. To promote the expanded rollout of the services, anyone signing up from Monday will receive a year's worth of Netflix as a streamed service at no additional cost.

However, beyond the Netflix offer and multi-device support within the home, promises that a home TV offering would be launched later in the year have yet to be fulfilled. In addition, the company is still not yet offering fully integrated quad-play bundles that combine Vodafone Broadband with mobile plans. Instead, all existing Vodafone mobile customers will get £5 (€6.7/$7.6) off their monthly Vodafone Broadband bill.

New and existing subscribers have a choice of three Vodafone Broadband bundles: Broadband ADSL, Superfast Fibre and Superfast Fibre+. Broadband speeds range from 17 Mbps to 76 Mbps, while prices for new subscribers range from £10 to £25 a month.

Vodafone said its network currently reaches exchanges that pass around 22 million premises across the UK. At the time of the initial launch in June, Vodafone confirmed that the home broadband service makes use of the Cable & Wireless Worldwide network for fibre to the cabinet and BT Openreach for last-mile access.

Home broadband services are becoming a new battle ground for mobile operators as they face growing competition from fixed rivals. In the UK, for example, Vodafone will face significant multi-play competition should BT succeed in its bid to buy EE, thereby creating a new fixed-mobile giant.

Some market observers believe that Vodafone would need to buy a fixed-line operator in the UK, following similar moves by the group in Germany and Spain. Virgin Media has been regarded as a possible contender, although that opportunity has receded for the time being following the termination of asset-swap talks between Vodafone Group and Virgin Media parent Liberty Global.

It was also separately reported that the UK government will today hold a debate on the issue of poor fixed and mobile broadband coverage across the country. BBC News reported that the focus would be on connecting the final 5 per cent of households not reached either by the market or the government's rural broadband programme. The news service added that the whole debate would be overshadowed by the bigger questions of whether the UK broadband strategy is working and the future of BT.

For more:
- see the Vodafone UK release
- see this Vodafone UK blog post
- see this BBC News article

Related articles:
Vodafone UK launches scheme with local pubs to improve mobile coverage
Analysts say a Vodafone-Liberty deal is still possible after asset-swap talks end
Vodafone says would invest in separate BT broadband unit
Jefferies International: Vodafone fiscal Q1 earnings show promise
Vodafone enters UK consumer broadband market with Vodafone Connect