After years of offering only mobile services in Australia, Vodafone plans to join the fray and offer broadband internet to homes and offices.
Announced by Vodafone CEO Iñaki Berroeta at a telecommunications event in Sydney Wednesday, the product will be delivered by the National Broadband Network (NBN) from 2017.
While Vodafone offers fixed broadband in other countries, it’s a first for the Australian market. The company is currently Australia’s third largest mobile network operator after Telstra and Optus.
Plans and pricing will be announced closer to launch, but Berroeta welcomed the chance to introduce more competition into the sector.
“There has been a lot of speculation about if, when and how Vodafone will enter the Australian fixed market, and the speculation can end today,” he said. “Customers want seamless connection, easy-to-understand plans and reliable service — and that’s the proposition we’ll be bringing to Australia before the end of 2017.”
Berroeta said it’s expected that four million Australian homes will be “NBN-ready” by the end of 2017, and Vodafone wants a chunk of that.
A NBN spokesperson told Mashable the company (a government-backed project to deliver fast broadband across Australia by 2020) welcomed the new partnership.
“The company’s expansion to fixed-line will continue to develop Australia’s competitive broadband market,” he said.
The NBN, long a political football in Australia, was an initiative formed by the previous Labor government, which promised super speedy internet via fibre-to-the-premises technology. Citing costs, that’s turned into fibre-to-the-node in most regions, under the current Liberal government.
In his speech, Berroeta called for the policy makers to stop getting distracted by the technology when making critical decisions about future infrastructure.
“Despite what I believe have been the best intentions of both sides of politics, our industry often finds itself tied up in excessive amounts of detail and focussing on short-term fixes,” he said.
“It is crucial in this world of fixed and mobile convergence that policy makers remain technology agnostic.”