Vodafone to offer fixed telecoms in Ireland

11 May 2007

Mobile operator Vodafone is putting plans in place to offer broadband and other telecoms services via fixed line, the company’s chief technology officer (CTO) for Ireland told siliconrepublic.com. Options include forging partnerships or going as far as acquiring a broadband provider.

Vodafone Ireland CTO Mats Svardh said that the ongoing convergence of fixed and mobile telecoms services is resulting in a corresponding convergence between fixed and mobile companies.

He said the idea was that Vodafone could no longer view itself as solely a mobile operator but as a total telecoms service provider.

“It’s all about access,” said Svardh. “Business and customers are looking for more and more services that are transparent in terms of access. If you download a music video you can access on your mobile but also on your home computer or your TV.

“It is therefore important for mobile and fixed-line operators to look at the total telecoms market and not fixed or mobile.”

Asked if Vodafone was likely to start selling DSL services, Svardh said: “Absolutely. It will happen. Our strategy may vary from country to country and may involve acquiring DSL providers or forging partnerships. We are in negotiations about this strategy and all I can say is that fixed-line access is important for Vodafone’s total telecoms strategy.”

In the UK, Vodafone is already reselling DSL services as part of a deal with BT.

A report last month by Analysys said that mobile operators who offer their own unbundled DSL services could achieve strong service uptake, while providers HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) could not profitably support usage levels of 2GB a month per customer.

“DSL services can generate nine times the ARPU [average revenue per user] earned by many mobile operators today from mobile data services,” said Dr Mark Heath, co-author of the Analysys report, entitled Mobile Operator Strategies for Fixed Broadband.

“However, the challenge is to offer such services profitably. If 10pc of its customers subscribed to DSL services, a large mobile operator with could achieve a 16pc cost saving in the provision of DSL services by investing in its own local loop unbundled network,” added Heath.

Svardh said that HSDPA is still integral to the company’s broadband plans and that some 20,000 people have signed up for its HSDPA services.

“Speeds currently stand at 1.4Mbps and we will be increasing that to 3.6Mbps very soon. The next steps after that will be 7.2Mbps and 14.4Mbps and within a couple of years we will see speeds of 44Mbps over HSDPA. This is only the beginning of truly high speed over mobile,” said Svardh, who added that Vodafone’s capital investment plan for Ireland stands at €3m per week.

By John Kennedy