Vodafone flexes its fixed and multi-play muscles

Vodafone may have given up on asset-swap talks with Liberty Global for now, but the company is continuing its global strategy of offering fixed services within individual markets to drive additional revenue and make sure fickle users stay.

Talks with Liberty could have led to deals that would have offered a quick "fix" for a multi-service play in markets such as the UK, albeit at a cost. In the meantime, Vodafone is up to more than you might think.

This week saw it extend its Vodafone Broadband service across the UK, meeting a promise made earlier this year that the fixed broadband and voice services would be available to more households in the autumn. Interestingly, the company has already dropped the "Vodafone Connect" brand for the service, although the 'Connect' name has been retained for the companion mobile app and home router.

Although the company is not yet selling quad-play bundles, it is offering discounts to mobile users and has already said that it is "looking at" the idea of a greater integration of fixed and mobile services.

The UK is not the only market where Vodafone has recently stepped up multi-play efforts, however. For example, in late September it launched 'Power-up' plans in the Netherlands that combine Vodafone Red plans with home Internet, TV and voice bundles, offering a number of incentives to persuade users to combine mobile with triple-play plans.

Meanwhile in Portugal, the local Vodafone company appears to have latched onto the so-called quintuple-play trend first adopted by rivals MEO and NOS. Vodafone Portugal is now offering a package under 'TV + Net + Voice + Mobile + Mobile Internet', where like its rivals it gets the "five" elements by splitting smartphone plans from tablet and laptop plans.

The challenge for Vodafone in markets like the Netherlands is to compete with operators that have been offering quad-play services for some time. As pointed out by Natasha Rybak, an analyst at Current Analysis, despite incentives like Power-up, gaining fixed market share against Ziggo and KPN "is still daunting: the operator claimed only 61,000 fixed broadband users at June 2015, compared to several million each for KPN and Ziggo."

Nonetheless, the recent moves in the three markets will allow Vodafone to flex new multi-play and fixed muscles. More enhancements are extremely likely further down the line.--Anne

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