Is Vodafone broadband any good?

samantha smith
By Samantha Smith

vodafone shopfrontVodafone

VODAFONE are better known for being a mobile network operator, with some 18 million customers in the UK.

But they've also been selling fixed line broadband to those customers since June 2015 - and to the wider UK population since September of that year.

So what do they offer?

In this review we'll compare their home broadband deals with those of their rivals, consider how no line rental affects their fibre deals - and their home phone - and take a look at what appears to be a cleverer than usual router, rounding off by considering customer service.

The packages

As with most ISPs, Vodafone keep things fairly simple by offering three unlimited packages with prices based on the speed of the connection.

Package Broadband Contract terms Upfront price Monthly price
vodafone Unlimited Standard Broadband 17 Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
18 months £6.99 £23
vodafone Unlimited Fibre 38 Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
18 months £56.98 £23
vodafone Unlimited Fibre 76 Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
18 months £56.98 £28

These prices are for people who are completely new to Vodafone.

Those who already have some kind of mobile deal from them (whether handset or mobile broadband) will benefit from £3 off the monthly cost of the fibre packages for as long as they take both mobile and fixed line.

Note also that all of Vodafone's home broadband contracts, whether fibre or ADSL, are a minimum 18 months long - and as is fairly standard these days, it's not possible to get their broadband without also taking their landline service.

There's one possible upfront cost that isn't included in these tables: anyone who needs a new BT-compatible phone line will need to pay a "new line provision fee" of £30 on top of the above setup costs.

When they launched, we said they may not be competitive enough "to challenge established UK providers" - but is that still the case? Take a look:

Package Broadband Contract terms Upfront price Monthly price
vodafone Unlimited Standard Broadband 17 Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
18 months £6.99 £23
BT Unlimited Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months £9.99 £26.99
for 12 mths,
then £40.99
Plusnet Unlimited + Line Only Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months Free £19.99
for 12 mths,
then £27.98
Sky Broadband Unlimited + Talk Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months £19.95 £20
for 12 mths,
then £28.99
talktalk Fast Broadband Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months Free £19.95
for 12 mths,
then £25.50

There are no special offers for new customers, and even existing Vodafone users see no benefit for their loyalty - but even so, their ADSL broadband is priced to compete with their rivals' promotional deals.

Things get even more interesting when we look at their fibre packages.

Fibre broadband from Vodafone

Last August Vodafone caused a small degree of fuss by announcing that they were scrapping line rental for their fibre customers.

It seemed at first like they were simply pre-empting the changes being brought in by the ASA that October, in which ISPs would have to start advertising their broadband using the total monthly prices, rather than advertising the broadband part of the bill separately.

But Vodafone were being serious - just look at what effect ditching line rental has when comparing their up to 38Mb packages with their rivals':

Package Broadband Contract terms Upfront price Monthly price
vodafone Unlimited Fibre 38 Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
18 months £56.98 £23
bt Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
Unlimited
12 months £59.99 £31.99
for 12 mths,
then £47.49
plusnet Unlimited Fibre + Line Only Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
12 months £25 £24.99
for 12 mths,
then £32.98
sky Fibre Unlimited + Talk Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
18 months £59.95 £38.99
talktalk Faster Fibre Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
18 months Free £25
for 18 mths,
then £32
virgin media Vivid 100 + Talk Weekends Up to 100Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £32
for 12 mths,
then £45

Vodafone's up to 38Mb fibre deals beat even the special offers from budget kings TalkTalk (reviewed here) and Plusnet (our guide here) - which shows just how much the ISPs are subsidising their broadband to make it attractive to new customers.

The difference is even greater when we look at how their 76Mb packages compare:

Package Broadband Contract terms Upfront price Monthly price
vodafone Unlimited Fibre 76 Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
18 months £56.98 £28
bt Unlimited Infinity 2 + Weekend calls Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
12 months £59.99 £44.99
for 12 mths,
then £53.99
plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra + Line Only Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
12 months £25 £29.99
for 12 mths,
then £37.98
sky Sky Fibre Max + Talk Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
18 months £59.95 £43.99
talktalk Faster Fibre (up to 76Mb) Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
18 months Free £30
for 18 mths,
then £37
virgin media Vivid 200 + Talk Weekends Up to 200Mb
Unlimited
12 months £20 £37
for 12 mths,
then £50

Again, only TalkTalk and Plusnet come close to Vodafone's prices, and even then that depends on how good an introductory offer they're running at the time.

Existing Vodafone customers benefit from even lower prices - £3 less per month than those quoted above - making them even more competitive.

But while not having to pay line rental makes a huge difference to the price of Vodafone's fibre packages, it doesn't change the fact that we still need a landline in order to get their broadband.

Home phone from Vodafone

Landlines that come with inclusive calls are becoming something of a rarity - and given that Vodafone are primarily a mobile network provider, we shouldn't be surprised that they don't bundle any call with their fixed line phone service.

They've taken their lead from some of the other ISPs regarding the pricing of their call packages. Unlimited evening and weekend calls to UK landlines can be added to a package for £4 a month; the anytime calls package includes calls to mobiles as well, and costs £8 a month.

As with most other providers, Vodafone's inclusive calls are free for the first 60 minutes, at which point customers will need to hang up and redial, or start to incur charges.

Outside inclusive call periods, customers can expect to pay a 19p connection fee, then 11.5p per minute for calls to UK landlines and 13p per minute for calls to UK mobiles.

Calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are made up of two charges: the service charge, levied by the organisation we're calling, and the access charge, which is set by our landline provider: Vodafone's access charge is 11p per minute

For those who want to call further afield, there's a third package available: International 300 gives users 300 minutes of calls to about 45 destinations; calls can also be made to mobiles in some countries, including Canada and the US, China, and India.

The router

vodafone home broadband router and app

Assuming Vodafone are available to them, customers will get one of Vodafone's "advanced" routers.

As well as providing a dual band wireless signal using the 820.11ac protocol - the fastest currently available - it can be made to focus its attention on certain devices or areas of the home.

The "Boost" function allows users to prioritise the wi-fi connection to a particular device for up to 12 hours at a time - useful for seamless streaming media on a tablet, or for downloading content to our phone before leaving the house.

"Beam", promises to focus the wi-fi signal to particular areas of the house, apparently helping combat not-spots that other wireless signals would find hard to reach.

Customers with a compatible Android device or iPhone can control these functions - and the router's controls, password and accessibility using the downloadable app.

It also promises to give users a direct link to Vodafone's Live Chat service, in case of queries or issues.

Customer service

Here's where the gloss comes off somewhat.

Vodafone are too small a fixed line provider to feature in Ofcom's customer satisfaction and complaints research - but their mobile arm has been responsible for more complaints to the regulator than any other provider dating back to 2014.

The move to a new IT system was responsible for the surge in complaints seen in 2015, and while the number of grievances has dropped steadily since December 2015, by the end of September 2016 they were still generating three times the industry average number of complaints:

mobile complaints to Ofcom, q2 2016

SOURCE: Ofcom Telecoms and Pay TV Complaints Q3 2016. Available here [pdf].

We know that there are plenty of people who are happy with the service they get from Vodafone, so it's worth asking friends, relatives and colleagues who are with the provider before judging.

Comments

1
11 June 2017
Gordon Bennett

Been with Vodafone since 2001, never had any problems regarding signal etc. The only problem has been with the online account service, it was 1st class until about 3 years ago then it was dire. Seems recently, since say February this year, it's almost back to as before.


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