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Vodafone joins wireless broadband party

Vodafone says it will start a nationwide fixed wireless broadband service in December. In its announcement the company took the opportunity to echo Spark’s criticism of Chorus’ copper telephone network.

Vodafone Home Wireless Broadband is, in effect, a version of the fixed wireless service Vodafone already offers to rural users. It will call on unused capacity on Vodafone’s celluar network to give home users an alternative broadband service.

While the company’s announcement make no mention of prices for the new service, they are not likely to be similar to those offered by Spark and its Skinny subsidiary.

Vodafone will sell customers a modem for $199 if they don’t sign a contract. Those signing a 12 month contract get a free modem, but early termination fees apply.

There are 40GB and 80GB options with a home phone connection and an 80GB naked plan. An extra 15GB of data cost $20 and users can buy an extra 1GB for $4.

In a press release announcing the service Vodafone Consumer Director Matt Williams says; “Home Wireless Broadband has been designed especially for Kiwis who are frustrated by slow and unreliable internet access via Chorus’ ageing copper network”.

Copper criticism

Williams’ comments about copper are similar to recent announcements by Jason Paris. Paris is CEO home, mobile and business at Vodafone’s main rival, Spark New Zealand.

According to Williams: “…Watching videos on multiple devices and old-style ADSL plans delivered over the copper phone network simply don’t cut it anymore. Even if you’re a relatively light internet user, issues like buffering are still really frustrating”.

Well yes, but many copper users could upgrade to VDSL plans. In most cases they are the same price as ADSL and VDSL performance is likely to be comparable with 4G fixed wireless.

You can buy unlimited data plans on VDSL which means no worrying about buying extra data. Buffering is frustrating, but so are low data caps.

That’s not to say fixed wireless is not the right technology for many users. It’s the cheapest way to get basic broadband and needs nothing more than a special 4G modem.