More than three years after it left the market, Vodafone has made a return to broadband. After months of teasing, the carrier has unveiled 'Connect,' a new internet and home phone service that will initially only be available to existing customers. Like many of its rivals, including Sky and TalkTalk, Vodafone will piggyback on BT's Openreach infrastructure (although it is utilising the Cable & Wireless backbone it acquired in 2012), offering 17Mbps speeds as part of its basic package, or 76Mbps fibre in its top-tier plan.
All plans all come with a minimum 18-month contract, but the carrier has made sure that pricing is competitive. The lowest-tier package costs £2.50 a month for 12 months (£10 for non-Vodafone customers), and £5 for the remaining six months of the plan, while the fibre product will cost £10 a month (£25 a month for non-Vodafone customers) for the first year, before rising to £20 thereafter. They are introductory prices, though, and Vodafone will also levy a £16.99 monthly line rental charge.
So what do you get for your money? For a start, all plans include unlimited broadband usage and inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines. Vodafone Red customers will enjoy 300 Anytime & Mobile minutes on top of that. You'll also get the Connect router, which Vodafone says offers a "richer, smarter, more responsive Wi-Fi experience." It comes with a "Boost" feature that will let you maximise download speeds on a chosen device for up to 2 hours at a time and will also offer a separate WiFi connection for guests, letting you choose how long users are connected for (one for the kids, maybe). Vodafone has also built a dedicated mobile app that helps set up your connection and choose which devices should benefit from Boost.
Vodafone's starting small, targeting existing customers in Manchester and selected parts of Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire. After that, the provider will extend the service to Essex, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire, before opening it to all Vodafone customers "later this year." Everyone else will have to wait until Autumn.