Vodafone is planning to focus on indoor mobile coverage and the reliability of its network as it launches a £4.5m ad campaign taking a swipe at EE’s 4G launch.
The operator’s consumer director Srini Gopalan said it is planning to focus on its ‘heritage of reliability’ as it plans to launch its own 4G network next year. He said: ‘From our perspective, it’s been putting across our point of view on the network. We have been consistently the most reliable network, whether you look at the numerous awards we have won, our business partners, or the fact that the police and ambulance services use Vodafone.’
Vodafone launched the high-profile ad campaign last Friday (26 October), with a series of cover-wraps and internal ads across the national press, citing its recent win as best network in last month’s Mobile Choice Consumer Awards, and talked up the building of its own 4G network, which it will be able to launch after next year’s 4G auction. In contrast with EE, which is promising 98% outdoor coverage, Vodafone said it would offer 98% indoor by 2014. When asked why it was promising this, Gopalan said: ‘It’s the laws of physics. We will launch our own 4G service on 800MHz as it punches through walls better.’
The operator also launched a 4G early upgrade handset guarantee for any customers who upgrade to an iPhone 5, 4G Samsung Galaxy S III or Galaxy Note II between now and March. If they pay at least three monthly bills, Vodafone will upgrade them to a 4G contract when it launches if they pay off 30% of their remaining line rental and trade in their phone. Gopalan said: ‘What the promise is about is when the 4G network is ready, we will get them onto a 4G ready phone. Currently it’s the Samsung Galaxy S III, its Note II, the HTC One X, plus forthcoming devices from HTC, Nokia and BlackBerry. We spend lots of time predicting the recycling of the iPhone but it tends to be less than a year and we would expect it to have 4G.’
While EE’s pricing of its 4G offer was criticised by some for being too expensive and offering too little data on the lowest tariff, the operator is expected to swell its acquisition figures when it reports on its latest trading quarter in January.
When asked if rivals such as Vodafone can compete with them offering high speeds, Gopalan said: ‘The way customers think about networks is complex and nuanced, simply saying it’s about download speeds in one location is not all. Choice of network includes latency and consistency of service. It is really difficult to say “we will lose x number of customers because EE has 4G early”. Our view is much more long term than simply this quarter’s trading.’
Editor: Graeme Neill