Vodafone commences NBN trial


news National mobile carrier Vodafone today revealed it had signed up the first customers for its trial of the National Broadband Network’s fibre broadband network, and that its customers would also get access to the FetchTV Internet video platform.

So far, the company is the only new provider to trial the NBN infrastructure, with Vodafone currently offering only mobile broadband services in Australia, not any tied to the fixed infrastructure which the NBN fibre represents. It has previously been engaged in technical trials of the NBN for some months, but the new trial announced today in the early stage rollout in Armidale, NSW, represents its first customer trial.

“We are pleased to have connected our first NBN customers and delighted to be providing them with some of the innovation that’s possible with the latest generation of mobile, fixed broadband and TV services,” said Nigel Dews, CEO of Vodafone Hutchison Australia.

“Vodafone is trialling innovative TV services with new entrant FetchTV, including High Definition movies on demand and is also the first operator to trial femtocell technology with the Vodafone Expand product through the NBN,” the company’s statement added. “Vodafone Expand boosts indoor signal strength for Vodafone 3G mobile devices, providing better call quality and mobile internet access.” FetchTV is also being provided to customers by other ISPs such as Optus, iiNet, Internode and Adam Internet.

The nine customers on Vodafone’s trial in Armidale will receive the NBN and FetchTV services free, and the telco is planning similar trials in Kiama (NSW) and Brunswick (Victoria) next year. Vodafone has not yet released any commercial pricing for the NBN.

For Vodafone, the NBN represents a significant opportunity to expand the services it sells to its already extensive customer base. The company currently provides mobile services to over 7.2 million customers in Australia through its Vodafone, ‘3’ and Crazy John’s brands. In other countries it has sought to bundle fixed and mobile telecommunications services together, as other telcos like Telstra and Optus do in Australia.

If Vodafone was to roll out its own fixed broadband infrastructure in Australia — or use Telstra’s — it would face significant implementation costs. However, it is believed that the rollout of the NBN will allow Vodafone to enter the fixed broadband market in Australia in a much more streamlined fashion.

I am very keen to see what Vodafone’s bundled NBN pricing is eventually like. With its mobile network improving in leaps and bounds, and the company having similar scale to a Telstra or Optus in many ways, it will be fascinating to see what kind of pricing the company comes out with. It may be that Vodafone will be able to strongly compete with Dodo and TPG on a pricing basis in fixed broadband, as it competes with Telstra and Optus in mobile.

Image credit: Vodafone


  1. I am not sure the established ISP’s that are not also wireless providers had this in mind about the so called new world of ‘NBN open competition’.

    ISP’s that can package their own cost controlled wireless products in with NBN fixed line are in good position to virtually give the NBN away at cost or even less and make their margins on the lucrative boom products – wireless data and mobile calls.

    • And the end user would care about this, why?

      As long as they are getting an agreed service at an agreed price, why would they care which component of the bundle Vodafone is making their money on?

      • i don’t think that was the point alain was trying to make.

        what i take from his post is that the established ISP’s will be caught on the hop by this new player in the market.
        one who is going to be able to provide cut price mobile broadband because they can offset the costs of it with their primary income. ie MBB and mobile phone.

        the existing ISP’s may need to look at their NBN strategies if they want to be able to be competitive.

        personally i don’t think it will be such a big deal for them as they will be targeting different markets and most of the big ISP’s already have some form of MBB and mobile phone offerings anyway.

        • Yes that was the point I was obviously making, and I take your point that ISP’s also sell resold wireless as well but obviously if you are the actual wireless wholesaler that owns wireless infrastructure and also retails it your cost base is lower, unlike the wireless resellers that are at the mercy of the provider wholesale deal, also if you want you can restrict who you sell it to, like Telstra has done with NextG.

          Also with new wireless technologies you can keep it all in-house until you have a firm grip on the neck of the customer base, I don’t think Telstra will be in a screaming hurry to wholesale Telstra LTE do you?

          NBN FTTH ‘technologies’ everyone gets them.

          • indeed.

            it seems we agree on something.

            what i’m not sure of though is if you’re saying this is a good thing or a bad thing.

            i think it’s a good thing.

          • If I was a ISP NOT in the top five or six I am not sure I would see it as a good thing, a well established world wide name brand communications company trying to poach your customers, especially those that are already Vodafone mobile/wireless customers with a package deal they cannot refuse.

          • well yes.
            but that is just an unfortunate reality of business.
            the big players want all of the customers and the best way they can do that is sell their products/services to a price point.

            however i would suggest that just like the big players will have to re-examine their NBN strategies, so will the little players.

            as with all small players in a big field of play they will have to find a point of difference with which to market themselves in order to compete.
            eg. if you can’t compete on price, compete on customer service.

        • “what i take from his post is that the established ISP’s will be caught on the hop by this new player in the market.

          And this is a bad thing, how? That’s called “competition”…

  2. Just received the following statement from Conroy on this launch:


    The Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today congratulated Vodafone for connecting its first trial customers to the National Broadband Network (NBN) and welcomed the telco’s entry into the fixed line market in Australia.

    “It is terrific to see that a global giant like Vodafone considers the conditions are now right for it to enter the fixed line market in Australia for the first time by connecting customers to the NBN,” Senator Conroy said.

    “The NBN’s wholesale only open access network is, for the first time in Australia, creating a level playing field with the ability to attract new entrants like Vodafone.

    “Around the world, Vodafone is predominantly a mobiles-only operator. Vodafone’s entry into the fixed line market, as a potential retail service provider on the NBN, is a first for the company in Australia.

    “Contrary to claims that the NBN is anti-competitive, Vodafone’s decision to enter the fixed line services market demonstrates that structural reform is increasing retail service competition leading to a more dynamic and innovative market.

    “Attracting a new fixed line operator demonstrates the value of the NBN as an open access, wholesale only provider.

    “The decision by a predominantly mobiles-only operator such as Vodafone to offer services over the NBN reflects the complementary nature of wireless and fixed networks.”

  3. “The decision by a predominantly mobiles-only operator such as Vodafone to offer services over the NBN reflects the complementary nature of wireless and fixed networks.”

    It also reflects that reselling taxpayer funded infrastructure as a business case is a walk in the park with minimal CAPEX risk, you get your retail margin regardless, if the taxpayer funds a loser multi billion dollar sinkhole for decades ISP retailer care factor on that is a big fat zero.

    Many corporations that increasingly rely on the internet for their customer business would have to be looking at providing a total package including the access plan, especially with the likes of Telstra and Optus becoming NBN wholesaler aggregators, Australia Post, banks and sharebrokers especially come to mind on that one.

    • “a walk in the park with minimal CAPEX risk, you get your retail margin regardless, if the taxpayer funds a loser multi billion dollar sinkhole for decades ISP retailer care factor on that is a big fat zero

      So let me get this straight, having players like Vodafone join the market with competitive bundled packages, pays back the funds used build the network?

      Funny definition of sinkhole.

          • If the proof that NBN is working to encourage retail competition is the number of ISP’s then it is failing so far.

            I assume Conroy will only make grand spin announcements when a new player like Vodafone enters the market, if a ISP disappears from the market or is bought out decreasing competition there will be deafening silence.

          • You realise the onboarding process isn’t a matter of just filling out a form, don’t you? There’s testing, and B2B interfacing to implement before an ISP is allowed to sell NBN services.

            It takes time and money to go through the process – and different ISPs have different resource levels to achieve that.

            As for the shape of the market over time – well, that’s just it – it’s the market. It will find its natural balance – just as liberal economics would argue.

          • on the contrary, they have substantially more resources.
            substantially more infrastructure too.
            they have a lot more to consider than any other isp.

            it takes a lot to get such a lumbering beast mobilised.
            hence my comment to you further down that telstra never rushes into anything they do.

          • I don’ t know what infrastructure has got to do with it, we are just talking about flogging NBN into the limited release areas, it’s not as if Telstra has not had any experience with FTTH, compared to them the NBN Co is very late on the scene.

            I guess Telstra ( BigPond) are waiting for that critical mass to occur, that is the the NBN passing 90% of residents in a exchange area, which is the trigger for Telstra to shut down the PSTN.

            What will be interesting to watch is if such a situation occurs before election time 2013.

  4. no kidding.

    the roll out has barely even begun and already there is more competition in fixed broadband.

    • Well no not really, although it sounds good as a throwaway line (you should be Conroy’ speech writer!), there about 200 ISP’s in Australia – how many sell NBN plans?

        • As of today there is one less than the day before.

          Stand by for announcement from Conroy of how the NBN increases retail competition.

          What a joke!

        • So it’s not 200 or anywhere near that figure, hello No 1 ISP BigPond I am looking at you.

          • No not the trial freebies which the NBN Co count as being sign-ups and which are reflected in the speed choices, 100Mbps is the same price as 12 Mbps – free ‘hey look at the uptake graph at the highest speed that justifies the rollout’ – absent means that BigPond don’t have commercial plans that you pay for yet, like Internode, iiNet, Exetel and Primus do.

            I assume Telstra are waiting for some big fat cheques from Conroy to shut down exchange areas – that should do wonders for the NBN uptake.

            What will be also interesting is when Telstra do have commercial plans what the Homeline Budget equivalent will be priced at, rounded up to the retail12 Mbps data price point because it’s the ‘new age digital age’ perhaps?

          • we all know that telstra never rushes into anything they do.

            they’re very rarely first to market with anything.

          • Once again, Telstra will be ready when they are ready. Like any other ISP, they’ll have their own business plans which they will stick to.

            I don’t get that you don’t understand this.

            Or maybe I do.

  5. At least it’s one area where Vodaphone may actually provide a comparible service to that being offered by it’s competitors…. unlike their current mobile service. (removes tongue from cheek).

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