Bullish Vodafone barges back into UK consumer broadband market

Just as BT eyes up mobile opportunities. Funny that ...

Vodafone is plotting to re-enter the UK's competitive broadband market in 2015 – with a little help from arch enemy BT.

The mobile operator said this morning that it would use the Cable & Wireless Worldwide network it bought in 2012 to tout its rival service at Brits. That acquisition gifted Voda with access to nearly 13,000 miles of fibre-optic cable around Blighty.

It was clear back then that the carrier's £1bn payout for that network would – over time – allow Vodafone to reduce its reliance on BT's infrastructure.

Readers may recall that Vodafone first offered a fixed broadband service in early 2007. Five years later, it had offloaded the business to BT-owned ISP Plusnet. At the time Voda stated:

The residential phone and broadband market in the UK is not a strategic focus at the present time.

This morning, it was a different story.

A Vodafone spokesman confirmed the plans in a terse statement to The Register, after the carrier delivered its latest quarterly results to the City.

Vodafone UK will roll out residential broadband services from Spring 2015.

The service will be based on Vodafone’s existing fixed infrastructure, with more than 20,500km [12,738 miles] of fibre. Additional coverage will be provided through wholesale and co-location. We will provide specific details nearer to the launch of the service.

El Reg understands that Vodafone will still have to rely, in part, on BT's broadband network. The wholesale hint is obviously there in the statement.

BT has been elbowing its way back into the consumer mobile space it abandoned in 2002 with the sale of Cellnet, which later became O2. As part of its return to that market, BT ditched Vodafone's network late last year.

However, it was recently forced to deny that technical difficulties were hampering its plans. BT has been wrestling with carrying voice calls and data traffic over Wi-Fi networks.

The former state monopoly told the Reg last month that it had always said it would take roughly two years to develop BT's consumer femtocell service.

BT declined to comment on this story. ®

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