Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s UK chief executive, lends his support to Openreach’s new full-fibre wholesale pricing proposal, but asks wholesalers to introduce broadband social tariffs to help vulnerable customers.
Vodafone has the widest full-fibre footprint in the UK through partnerships with wholesale fixed line providers such as Openreach and CityFibre. This means Vodafone superfast broadband services are now available to almost 12 million homes across the country.
Using our partners’ networks, rather than building our own, avoids needless duplication and cost and helps us remain agile in a highly competitive market. It’s how we can offer fast, reliable and affordable broadband to all our customers.
We all want to build Gigabit UK as fast as we can and we appreciate that our wholesaler partners are investing huge sums building out this full-fibre network of the future, with all the economic and societal benefits to customers across the country. It’s fair that they should want and need a return on their investment.
In fact, we welcome Openreach’s latest ‘fibre to the premises’ (FTTP) broadband pricing offer – called Equinox II – which it has presented to regulator Ofcom for consultation. It seeks to offer more affordable wholesale prices for fibre over the medium term, helping broadband retailers put together more attractive packages for consumers.
We think their proposed offer poses no threat to efficient alternative fibre providers and, importantly, doesn’t discourage retailers like Vodafone from using other wholesalers. Indeed, we hope to widen our use of alternative fibre providers in the near future. We strongly believe that a competitive wholesale market is essential to ensure UK consumers benefit from good value, choice and innovation.
So we hope Ofcom will recognise the value of Openreach’s Equinox II offer to consumers and its important role in encouraging wider fibre adoption.
Help for vulnerable customers
But as a purpose-led business, we also want to offer broadband packages that are affordable for our most vulnerable customers. This is why we launched our social broadband tariff in October 2022 – the cheapest on the market at the time. At just £12 a month it represents fantastic value for money.
Unfortunately, it is unsustainable at that price.