ISP and mobile operator Vodafone has grown its VDSL2 fixed line broadband customer base from 183,000 to 479,000 in just under 2 years.
The speedy acquisition of customers is being attributed largely to Vodafone’s exceptionally competitive pricing in the fixed line broadband market.
The company’s latest report also announces that their new Gigafast service will be rolled out in 2019 across several areas pending the results of initial testing carried out around Milton Keynes which started in September. Over 3,500 premises are currently covered by the Gigafast service within the Milton Keynes area, and it looks like more streets are to be added soon, though it seems they have some way to go in catching up to competitors like GTC/OFNL, who cover some 35,500 premises across the whole of England.
A clear lead in pricing during Q4 of 2017 was instrumental in Vodafone’s overall growth with them winning 66,000 sign-ups to their fixed line services during the 3 month period. The last two quarters have seen only 53,000 and 44,000 sign-ups as other broadband providers catch up with regards to the pricing gap. Another major factor in the recent slow-down in growth may be that FTTC services are tending towards market saturation, so naturally there are fewer new customers to sign up.
A number of competitors have moved towards fixed-price contracts leaving many people locked into long-term commitments, so this may also be affecting how many new sign-ups there have been over the last 6 months. Also, the ‘VDSL2 is not real fibre’ campaign run by CityFibre may have convinced enough people to wait until full fibre service becomes available, despite the fact that partial fibre services would still give them a much faster connection than ADSL/ADSL2+. Despite possibly affecting sign-up numbers in the short term, this is set to benefit Vodafone in the long run as they are CityFibre’s primary ISP partner in their £2.5bn roll-out of a 1Gbps FTTH connection to 5 million UK premises by the end of 2024.
Speed-test analysis shows that the majority of Vodafone users testing their connection speeds (60%) are on a VDSL2/FTTC 40/10 Superfast service, and that only 11.5% of Vodafone’s customers are on an ADSL2+ based service – a somewhat unique breakdown for the sector. Although, with Black Friday fast approaching, these figures are all set to change as providers rollout promotional pricing to expand their FTTC customer base, with some possibly dropping below the £20 per month threshold.
Overall, it’s been an eventful quarter at Vodafone. Their mobile customer base shrank to just over 17million (down 377,000) last quarter (although their contract customer base saw a net gain of 86,000), whilst they went live with their first 5G wireless broadband expansion, and they even saw some of their TV adverts banned. In addition, they have also reported that across the EU their average smartphone customer is using 3.2GB per month on their 3G/4G data network.