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Vodafone UK’s strategy includes lifting 1m people from digital poverty

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The operator pledges to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2027 and a flexible way to pay for consumer devices.

Vodafone UK set out its stall yesterday in a virtual presentation called Reinvent 2021 by senior execs. They include the new CEO, Ahmed Essa, who put what Vodafone calls the disconnected at the heart of the operator’s activities.

Digital future

Essam wants a digital future for everyone that’s “sustainable, inclusive and fair”.

He said, “We are going to shake up the market, with new commitments and propositions that will make us a champion for our customers, and for the communities we serve.”

Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, said Vodafone would connect 1 million people “in digital poverty” by the end of 2022, with its Buy One, Give One.

For every new and existing Vodafone Together household (that is that subscribes to a fixed broadband and mobile bundle), Vodafone will provide a person in need with a SIM card, loaded with 20GB of data plus free calls and texts each month for up to a year.

Max Taylor, Vodafone’s Consumer Director, announced EVO – a new way of buying a device with a mobile plan that allows Pay Monthly mobile customers to choose not how much they want to pay up front for their smartphone, smartwatch or tablet and over what time period, between 12 and 36 months.

Zero carbon

Andrea Donà, Network and Development Director, announced that Vodafone will eliminate all carbon emissions from its UK operations by 2027 to fight climate change, and to reduce carbon emissions from Vodafone’s suppliers by 2030.

“We don’t underestimate the scale of this challenge,” he said. “It means we have to look at every aspect of our network and our technology estate.”

He emphasised the importance of OpenRAN, not only to Vodafone’s plans to strengthen and extend its UK network, but to the very way the company – and the telecoms sector – works.

Vodafone UK announced its principal Open RAN suppliers earlier this week and is one of the five biggest European operator groups promoting and supporting Open RAN.

Donà  commented, “In an OpenRAN world, upgrading your network or switching vendors does not mean changing your entire network. It is no longer a time-consuming and expensive exercise.

“It also accelerates our transformation to becoming a tech comms company, allowing us to build our own technology and develop our own software skills.”

5G use cases

Anne Sheehan, Business Director, highlighted Vodafone’s work with businesses and the public sector.

Apparently 5G is enabling surgeons to collaborate remotely; helping Ford streamline its electric car manufacturing operations in Essex through a mobile private network; and supporting the marine tech testbed at Plymouth Sound.