Vodafone has launched its home broadband service and it will initially only be available to Vodafone UK customers in Manchester, Berkshire, parts of Hampshire, Surrey and then Essex, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire in a few weeks.
One presumes the geographical roll-out is to help manage demand to ensure a good quality of service is delivered, but may also be influenced by the areas where they have their LLU network and a good sized backhaul capability. We may learn more later today in a briefing call.
Existing Vodafone mobile customers get a £5 discount on the fixed line broadband products, and prices are further reduced by a half price offer for 12 months. Voice line rental via Vodafone is a requirement and is priced at £16.99 and all three broadband products carry an 18 month contract, a line rental saver options is available that saves 20% on line rental. Packages include free evening and weekend calls and free F-Secure SAFE package for 6 months for 5 devices
In the tough competitive market, with various free for six month or even 12 month offers, the pricing looks fairly normal and may struggle to attract new people to Vodafone, but may work as a retention tool. Unfortunately this is the path that Orange/EE took with its Home Broadband service and they never broke into the league of the major players, so a lot will depend on what special offers Vodafone can come up with.
The wireless modem supplied with the service supports 802.11ac, vectoring and beam forming to improve signal reception in the home if your other devices also support it. The ability to boost as in give priority to a specific device on the wireless network is an interesting which when paired with the router control app that runs on mobiles is a little different, but time will tell if this appeals to the average household.
The launch to non Vodafone customers is expected later in the year, but oddly existing Vodafone customers can only buy the service over the phone in one of the 500 Vodafone stores. Online ordering is expected to become available soon, but launching without that facility may hamper the product.
When reading the press release there was a small moment of excitement as it mentioned ultrafast broadband, but unfortunately it appears that the marketing people have decided to morph ultrafast to mean the up to 76 Mbps product. The generally accepted definition of ultrafast is a broadband service offering downloads faster than 100 Mbps, hopefully as Vodafone get to grips with the world of fixed line broadband they will adapt.
Update 11:40am Some further detail the service is confirmed as based on Openreach GEA-FTTC (no plans to use GEA-FTTP) and fibre backhaul in place at 1,000 exchanges covering some 20,000,000 premises extending to 22,000,000 later this year. The up to 38 Mbps FTTC service has been confirmed as based on the Openreach GEA-FTTC 40/10 product, so offering up to 9.5 Mbps uploads. Oddly the beam forming feature was referred to as being controlled manually via the mobile phone app so people can eliminate Wi-Fi not-spots in the home, hopefully this is something you can just configure once.