Vodafone UK is expected to launch a consumer IoT play “soon” as its CEO looks to reclaim lost ground.
Speaking at a media roundtable on Thursday (19 November) Nick Jeffery said the company had “slightly lost its mojo” and that “heads were down” when he took the reins just over one year ago. He replaced Jeroen Hoencamp, who now heads up VodafoneZiggo, the UK operator's Dutch joint venture with Liberty Global.
Thirteen months later and with customer complaints down 80 percent in the last six months, the CEO said the operator now has a platform “where we can innovate commercially”.
Jeffery and Marketing Director David James used the roundtable to launch two new tariffs and revealed that a consumer IoT play was in the pipeline.
Asked by European Communications if a smart home offering was something Vodafone was looking at, he said: “We really understand the technology underpinnings of the IoT and we have got scale. Applying that to the consumer market is a logical thing for us to think about.”
He said another meeting would be held “soon” to reveal more details.
The IoT discussion came as Vodafone unveiled two new tariffs in a bid to win back customers. While it remains the UK's third largest mobile operator, it has lost 685,000 mobile subscribers since Jan 2016.
First, it has followed other Vodafone opcos in Greece, Italy and Spain by launching Passes.
These are four themed content bundles – chat, music, social and video – that users can choose to access unlimited content.
The video pass, for example, means customers can pay £9 per month to watch unlimited content from Amazon, My5, Netflix, TV Player, Vevo and Youtube.
Vodafone said it was targeting the 68 percent of customers who fear using more data than they have in their bundle and the 25 percent who do go over their bundle every six months.
The music and social passes cost £5 per month each and zero rate content from the likes of Apple, Deezer Facebook, Spotify and Twitter.
Chat passes cost £3 per month and include Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp.
A combination of all four passes can be bought for £15 a month, although customers still need to buy a regular contract to use them.
The operator's Marketing Director said the 20 brands who have signed up to offer their services to Passes means the operator have four times as many partners as rivals, such as Virgin, which is also offering zero-rated content.
Negotiations with other brands were ongoing, James said, as the operator looks to head off any net neutrality concerns.
He confirmed Vodafone had discussed the offering with Ofcom and said “they’re fine for now” about the company is doing.
“The more apps the better,” he said. “Any app provider, big or small, for no cost can register to be a part of Passes.”
Second, Vodafone unveiled a new pay-as-you-go tariff called PAYG1.
This sees customers pay a maximum of £1 per day for unlimited voice and text, and up to 500Mb of data.
James said Vodafone was targeting “a neglected group” who don’t use their phone a lot.
He said the data included would be enough for 99 percent of customers. Those who break through the 500Mb limit can buy another 500Mb for £1.
Jeffery said both the new tariffs, available next month, were the result of Vodafone listening to its customers.
They join VOXI, the digital brand for under-25s launched last month, and a host of customer service initiatives that the company has rolled out this year.
“The message is Vodafone is back,” Jeffery said.
Read more: Q&A: Vodafone UK Chief Executive