Operator says it will not charge a premium for 5G, but price it the same as the 4G equivalent service. It and BT are betting big on convergence.
Vodafone switched on 5G networks in seven cities in the UK. At the launch in London at which Formula 1 world champion, Lewis Hamilton (pictured right, with Vodafone UK's CTO, Scott Petty), hit the ‘on’ button, it was clear Vodafone is looking to 5G to draw the line under a number of lacklustre years in its home market.
Indeed Petty and Nick Jeffery UK CEO, emphasised the importance of 5G to the British economy.
Unlimited data, priced on speed
It might have been second to BT/EE in launching 5G and have fewer handsets than EE to choose from, but it is the first to offer unlimited data bundles, and with tariffs based on speed – another new concept.
This is in sharp contrast to Deutsche Telekom’s approach, announced at the same time.
Vodafone Unlimited will be available from 10 July 2019 to consumers and business customers, running its 4G and 5G networks:
• Unlimited Lite will run at 2Mbps, will cost £23 (€25.63) a month and is intended for customers who primarily want to use it for social apps, Internet access and to stream music.
• Unlimited will run at 10Mbps, will cost £26 a month and is designed for those wanting to stream video.
• Unlimited Max will run at the fastest speed possible by the network and the device, and will cost £30 a month. It is for people who want to watch 4K TV, play games and use virtual reality.
Limited, extras and phones
Ordinary, limited data usage tariffs – branded Red – will still be available, starting from £11 a month for 1 GB of data.
Red and Unlimited customers will have the option of adding a monthly subscriptions to services including Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Sports Mobile or Now TV, for £6 per month.
All the plans come with access to Hatch, a cloud-based gaming service made for 5G.
Jeffery said he hoped Vodafone would be able to add Huawei’s Mate 20X 5G to the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G or the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.
The latter is the cheaper and bundled with the cheapest data package costs £50 per month plus a single upfront payment of £99.
You can see all the pricing details here.
Convergence finally catches fire?
Convergence hasn’t set the heart racing much yet (also see BT below), but Vodafone hopes to fix this with a new brand, Vodafone Together, this month.
It will unveil new tariffs, single billing and a £3 a month discount to customers who choose an 18-month, SIM-only or handset plan along with Vodafone’s home broadband service.
Home broadband customers will be eligible for a free Amazon Echo Plus smart speaker, which can make and receive hands-free calls in the home at no extra charge.
As Kester Mann, Principal Analyst, CC Insight noted, “This means that customers can take unlimited mobile data and home broadband services, plus Amazon Alexa, from £43 per month”.
5G for business
Anne Sheehan, Director of Vodafone Business, UK, announced a new brand, Vodafone Business Unlimited.
She said that by announcing the three speed-tiered price plans for business customers, Vodafone is “ripping up the rule book in enterprise, too”.
BT backs convergence
BT plans to launch 5G as converged offering this autumn, to personal and business subscribers.
BT Plus customers will be first to have the option to upgrade to 5G as part of a converged mobile and broadband package.
5G from BT Mobile will use the EE 5G network, which launched in May in six cities. It will be rolled out to the busiest parts of a further ten cities across the UK by the end of 2019.
They are London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol
Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said, “We’re bringing together the best fibre and mobile connections to help keep our customers connected, both on the go and at home.
“Launching 5G for BT customers will give them the opportunity to experience the fastest mobile speeds in the busiest areas of the UK, and our BT Plus customers will have the first opportunity to sign up for 5G.”