Supermarket Asda’s mobile arm will ditch EE’s network for Vodafone’s from early 2021, in another blow for EE.
Asda Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), piggybacking on another network for connectivity. At its launch in 2007, that network was Vodafone but in December 2013, Asda embarked on a seven-year partnership with EE.
Now Asda has returned to Vodafone, inking a new five-year deal that will give its customers access to the red network’s 4G and 5G networks and unlimited data plans. The revamped Asda Mobile will also offer WiFi calling and new family discounts.
Existing Asda Mobile customers will be switched to Vodafone’s network from early next year and new sign-ups directly connected to Vodafone.
Some Ada Mobile customers may be dismayed by the switch, however. Vodafone regularly tops the league for consumer complaints about its mobile network, including about outages, while EE performs far better. Vodafone subscribers reported widespread outages as recently as two weeks ago.
The poor performance means Vodafone 462,000 mobile customers in the second quarter of the year.
Vodafone's 5G network is also less widely available than EE's, although it outpaces EE's speeds in many cities, including London.
As part of the deal, Asda will also gain access to digital tools, allowing customers to access their accounts online, and analytics and insights to better target customers with perks and incentives.
Vishal Dixit, Vodafone UK’s strategy and wholesale director, said: “Asda will be giving its mobile customers access to a larger choice of services, the UK’s best mobile data network, as well as easier ways to manage their accounts.”
“We also give our partners access to our leading technologies and tools to ensure their customers get a fantastic mobile experience.”
Asda chief financial officer Rob McWilliam said: “We are confident our customers will find Asda Mobile offers even better value. Our partnership with Vodafone will also provide some of the very latest innovations, at a time when connected devices are playing an increasingly central role in all our lives. We look forward to working with Vodafone to provide great service for our customers.”
This is the second major MVNO EE has lost in the last year. Last November, Virgin Mobile ended its 20-year partnership with the network, signing a deal with Vodafone that was supposed to begin in late 2021.
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