Vodafone has launched a new unlimited voice and texts tariff that it hopes will boost the retention and acquisition of new customers.
The operator is backing Vodafone Red with an advertising spend believed to be in excess of £5m. The campaign is understood to feature Yoda from the Star Wars films. It is describing the new offer as its best ever value plan.
The tariff is available from £29 per month, which gives customers’ unlimited calls and texts, plus 1GB of data. Handsets available on the lowest priced plan include the Huawei Ascend G300, BlackBerry Curve 9320 and HTC One V. Customers can pay £5 more for Red Data, which gives them an extra 1GB of data. The highest priced tariff is £47 per month, which offers 2GB of internet and 3GB of Wi-Fi, and gives customers a Samsung Galaxy S III or HTC One X without an upfront payment.
Vodafone is also targeting small businesses with the plan. Red Business is available from £34.17 per month, offering business customers unlimited calls and texts and 1GB of data, as well as access to One Net Express, which gives businesses a virtual landline number on their phone. Businesses can get 2GB of data on calling plans from £38.33 per month. If they pay an extra £5, they get access to Vodafone Data Sharer, meaning the data allowance can be split between up to three devices at the same time.
The operator is the latest to launch its own spin on an unlimited tariff. Both Three and T-Mobile offer an unlimited data plan with their respective The One Plan and Full Monty tariffs, while O2 recently launched its unlimited minutes and texts offer, On and On. Srini Gopalan, consumer director at Vodafone, said there was greater demand among consumers for unlimited calls and data but denied the move was a competitive reaction to its rivals.
He said: ‘The important thing is to drive our price and value proposition rather than base it on a competitive reaction. There has been a trend of bundles getting larger. Some of our competitors are pushing it to the limit, whereas we feel what we are doing is in response to the consumer need.’
It is understood that as forthcoming devices are released they will be added to the tariff plan.
Gopalan said the tariff was available to all Vodafone customers. He added: ‘It’s something that will be available to both upgrading customers and new customers. This will help both the retention and acquisition of customers, but it is not solely an acquisition tariff.’
Vodafone CEO Guy Laurence added: 'People want to talk for as long as they like to whoever they want, whenever they want, without having to think about things like how many minutes they are using or what’s left in their call bundles. That’s why we are calling time on call charges.
'We are offering unlimited calls on all the handsets that we sell, making it simple for customers to choose what they want and easy to understand what they are getting. They can just take out their phone and call without any worries.'
Ernest Doku, from price comparison site uSwitch, said: 'Networks are realising that there is a fundamental change in the way people use their phones. Consumers want simplicity and the peace of mind to be able to talk and text as much as they like, without worrying about the size of the bill they might be racking up.
'However, the problem with making unlimited texts and calls universal is that when it comes to users, one size doesn't fit all. If you’re not a big talker or texter you could be paying for something you don’t need. And for heavy data users who only sporadically call or text, there are better value plans out there with greater data allowances.'
Editor: Graeme Neill