Vodafone plots foray into UK broadband market this year

Vodafone is planning to enter the highly competitive broadband market with the launch of a high-speed internet service in the UK before the end of the year.

The mobile giant is expected to launch the service initially in Germany through its fixed-line arm Arcor. But, in an exclusive interview with Marketing Week, the company’s global brand chief David Wheldon says it will introduce broadband in “other major markets” before the end of 2006.

Vodafone has previously admitted that it is looking at fixed and mobile convergence, but the company has not been clear on exactly what it planned to launch. Earlier this year, it set up a “new businesses and innovation” division to look at areas of revenue growth.

Wheldon says: “We don’t have the definitive answer but we will be offering DSL where our customers want it. We want to enable them to get whatever they want when and where they want it.”

He adds that Vodafone is unlikely to make many acquisitions, instead preferring to lease capacity from existing operators where it does not have a fixed-line presence.

Rival operator O2 recently bought broadband provider Be for &£50m and Orange has just launched “free” broadband to customers spending more than &£30 a month following its merger with fellow France Telecom brand Wanadoo.

However, T-Mobile marketing director Phil Chapman told MW last month that the Deutsche Telekom-owned brand was pursuing a strategy of providing broadband over mobile phones (MW July 27). He said there was a danger that convergence could become a distraction for mobile operators.

Other major players offering “free” broadband include Carphone Warehouse and Sky. Incumbents BT and NTL are also preparing to launch new converged offerings.

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