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Vodafone scores PR coup with new packages
Wednesday 10 August 2016 10:00:47 by Andrew Ferguson

The press reaction to the new Vodafone packages where the price of the line rental is rolled into the monthly price quoted has been a bit of a surprise in the last day or two. Maybe because when editing package listings we have rolled in the cost of line rental where at all possible for some months; this may be why we did not spot how momentous this move by Vodafone was.

What is odd about the new Vodafone packages is that line rental is listed at £0 for the VDSL2 services, but still mentioned as £18 on the ADSL2+ product, nothing in the T&C suggests that the £0 line rental on VDSL2 is an offer - we suspect its just social engineering to make people see the VDSL2 services as a better deal.

Some other changes are that evening and weekend calls are now a £4/month add-on where as previously they were included when line rental was £16.99 per month and even if you migrate in to Vodafone there is a £49 fibre activation fee. With many of the Vodafone competitors this is offset by the various voucher offers, the plus side is that the VDSL2 pricing is very competitive so long as there is no price hike after the 18 month contract.

There will be more providers revamping their broadband pages before the new advertising rules come into play in October, though we don't think anyone has seen an actual set of guidelines e.g. for providers that allow a choice of WLR provider what do you say with regards to line rental?

The campaigning around broadband is not letting up and broadband speeds are very much in the centre of the target once again, with mounting pressure to use average speeds (though no one ever bothers to say whether they mean the median or mean figures). The very real danger with respect to forcing the hand in advertising is providers wanting to keep their average speeds high will refuse service to those on longer lines, thus forcing people to remain on an existing product, so even if a rural ADSL user was only getting 3.4 Mbps from ADSL and would only get 12 Mbps from VDSL2 they might not be able to upgrade. This is not a theoretical problem BT Consumer used to police sign-ups to Infinity 1 and Infinity 2 like this and slow users had to sign up to another product which was also bereft of any of the special offers. Of course products like DOCSIS (Virgin Media) and FTTH/FTTP don't suffer the distance issues of xDSL products, but in an evidence based environment advertising the average speed will impact their advertising too.


Posted by TheEulerID 3 months ago
The obvious answer to this would just be to sell packages based on some meaningless marketing name which doesn't directly mention the speed but hints at it.

GEA-FTTC is already tiered by speed, albeit that those aren't guaranteed of course. A subtle tweak to the naming would do that as well.
Posted by burakkucat 3 months ago
You might like to revise the syntax of your second sentence of the first paragraph --

"Maybe because we've when editing package listings being rolling in the cost of line rental where at all possible for some months meant we did not spot how momentous this move by Vodafone was."
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
Tweaked away
Posted by blfamily 3 months ago
Question is will the other big providers follow suit?
Posted by CJT-80 2 months ago
This is an attractive deal for me, at around £28 per month for VDSL2 up to 76mbps. As I am currently paying £50 inc line rental for an independent provider. Just checked with Vodafone on their "home move" costs and was informed it's a £49 fibre activation charge that would be made for any fibre "reconnection" but you would stay in the remainder of your contract
Posted by milesm 2 months ago
While FttC users need a landline for service delivery, FttP users do not, yet I believe that those on an Openreach network are still required to pay for a landline whichever ISP they use. Doesn't seem fair.
Posted by ChrisAO 2 months ago
Are these packages available on exchanges where C&W are not LLU - or where BTw are the only provider?
Posted by David_W 2 months ago
@milesm Most of the costs you assert are for the landline are physical infrastructure provision and maintenance costs, which exist whatever connection method is used (though the balance between upfront provision and ongoing maintenance is somewhat different between FTTC and FTTP). The cost of providing voice service is somewhere between very little and negative, depending on how much revenue the provider receives from originating and terminating calls.

The cost saving of a "without voice" over a "with voice" service are likely to be small to non-existent at the retail level.
Posted by binary 2 months ago
It's amusing to contrast this new 'no line rental' (i.e. bundled price) offering from Vodafone with Sky's advertising for their new "NOW TV Combo" packages, which offer the NOW TV service combined with a broadband + phone line service.

The small print in brackets under the headline prices is as follows:
"Psst. You'll also need that pesky £17.99 a month line rental"

It's a kind of faux-chummy acknowledgement that most providers play this silly game... but in the context of Vodafone's bundled price it comes across pretty badly (not that the faux-chumminess was great in the first place).
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