Vodafone launches broadband switching awareness campaign ahead of Ofcom rule changes
There are a wave of changes on the way that could stimulate the broadband switching market or could stiffle it, which it will be depends a lot on what the largest broadband providers do in response to the Ofcom rule changes for out of contract customers that come into effect this February.
The changes mean customers of an ISP who are out of contract, should receive a notification (letter or email) with details of the best offer the ISP can make, this is likely to be a lower price than many out of contract customers are paying but the downside will be agreeing to a new 12, 18 or 24 month in return for a better price deal. Saving money without the perceived hassle of switching provider will appeal to many. One of the dangers though is that with full fibre from both large and small operators becoming increasingly available is that people may inadvertently lock themselves into long term contracts with a provider who is not selling FTTP across that particular physical network.
One thing we are watching out for is providers upselling when people don't really need it, i.e. entice them in with a good sticker price and then add extras once they have you interested - the classic car showroom technique. In the broadband world this is things like upgrading to faster package when no real requirement, anti-virus solutions or adding backup options.
Ahead of the changes Vodafone is trying to appeal to customers of over providers to switch to them and with their FTTC/VDSL2 Superfast 1 service costing £21.95/m on an 18 month contract and the faster Superfast 2 service at just £23.95/m, on price alone this should attract a good few people.
For those not aware the Superfast 1 service is based around the Openreach 40 Mbps download connection speed and 10 Mbps upload product and Superfast 2 uses the 80 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up version. If you have an existing FTTC/VDSL2 service it is only worth opting for the faster package if your modem is connecting at 39,999 or 40,000 Kbps, since the technology on the two products is identical, the only difference being the value the connection speed cap is set at.
Existing Vodafone pay monthly mobile customers get an extra £3/m off or if your contract is just a 12 month one you save £2/m.
There service has a connection speed guarantee of 25 Mbps on Superfast 1 and 55 Mbps on Superfast 2. The guarantee means if your sync speed is below that figure using the Vodafone app you can claim 15% back that month. The savings mean if you are on a long line and not getting superfast connection speeds you can reduce the monthly bill, though this does tie you into using the Vodafone modem/router and we have seen instances where 3rd party VDSL2 modems connect at higher speeds than the Vodafone hardware.
The Vodafone PR also adds a couple of other points:
- They have an Easy Switch Team with the claim "will take care of all the hard work, finding you the right package, and then doing all the heavy lifting to get you switched over from your old provider".
- "All customers will receive our recently launched powerful new router and a handy app to help control their WiFi. What's more, we are currently upgrading all our customer's routers with intelligent WiFi."
- "which includes our stay connected promise to ensure you're never without connection"
Broadband switching is incredibly easy already and can be accomplished without talking to anyone, since if staying on the Openreach network you only need to place an order with your chosen new provider. We did ask whether the switch team would help with the process of switching from other infrastructure e.g. Virgin Media but alas no big help as you still need to contact Virgin Media to tell them you are leaving. Having a switching team is useful for those who have questions for example seeking reassurance that a long time held telephone number will be ported successfully.
On the intelligent Wi-Fi point we asked if this means existing customers will be getting new broadband hardware, but the response only mentioned software changes to improve wi-fi speeds, reduce buffering and congestion. We have asked a follow up to confirm if the changes will be purely software based which seems likely since a by end of March 2020 date was mentioned.
A general reminder, if you are watching video on your Smart TV the best way to reduce buffering if your broadband connection speeds are sufficient to stream is to connect the TV to the broadband router using an Ethernet cable.
The stay connected promise is actually just for Vodafone Pay Monthly customers, where apparently if your fixed line broadband service fails they will increase the usage allowance on all the Vodafone mobile accounts in the house to unlimited data for the duration of the fault.