Vodafone is expecting to sign its first enterprise 4G deals ‘within weeks’ as the next generation battle for contracts hots up.
Both O2 and Vodafone will finally enter the fray from next week (29 August) by launching their own 4G offers. Vodafone will go live initially in London but is hoping to connect Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield by the end of this year.
The operators will be keen to move quickly to catch up on rival EE’s lead in 4G corporate accounts. The UK’s largest operator has more than 2,400 corporate accounts with businesses including retailer Ikea and building materials supplier Jewson.
Jonathan Kini, head of enterprise commercial marketing at Vodafone UK, said the operator is in talks with its enterprise customers about introducing 4G to their businesses. He said: ‘The important thing is that it’s all about what businesses can do with 4G and how it can change the way Britain works. We are the only operator with a fixed line and mobile network with superior investment across both. We can bring a proposition to the market that will help businesses connect their staff better and engage customers better.’
He described 4G as having mass appeal, with it benefiting large corporations to small businesses. He said: ‘Leaders today are constantly driven by three competing objectives. The first is internal meetings. Leaders also want to spend time with people to ensure they are engaged in the business’s strategy. Then there is the time they want to spend with customers to understand where their products need to evolve.’
While Kini predicted 4G would have wide demand across different types of businesses, he identified the construction sector as being an area of interest. He said: ‘Formerly when site visitors used to come into a building site, they would need to link up with the company Wi-Fi if they wanted to send information back over a secure connection. Wi-Fi can be unreliable and workers could be stuck wasting half a day. 4G means they can be up and running much quicker.
‘With our fixed line business, we can deploy into construction sites quicker and with security during a short period of time. We are working very closely with customers to understand what business objectives they are seeking [to achieve].’
Talks are underway between Vodafone and corporate customers about supplying them with 4G contracts. Kini said the first deals should be revealed within the coming weeks. The operator is expected to back the roll out of 4G to the business sector with an extensive marketing campaign, with a ‘significant’ chunk of the overall spend devoted to appealing to enterprises.
Author: Graeme Neill