back to article Vodafone turns to EU, asks it to FORCE 'fair' fibre pricing

Vodafone needs to get high-speed handsets into the hands of consumers to effectively compete in the market. But the company also needs to worry about how to handle all that data – and it's hoping the European Commission will help it get its hands on some cheaper fibre. It is hoping the EU will introduce mandatory price …


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  1. calm fella

    BT built their fibre network at their own expense and risk. If it'd been a flop, the other telcos would have said "tough sh*t, you took a risk and it didn't work out". But now the product is a success - Voda, Talk Talk et al seem to want the product at charity shop prices!

    1. dandomains

      Not quite true... BT has enjoyed significant Gov't funding for such infrastructure...

      1. Bluenose

        Not quite true either

        BT made a significant investment in fibre in the main conurbations of the UK alongside Virgin's established network and has continued to make that investment in an attempt to a)compete against Virgin and b)to establish its own fibre monopoly in areas where Virgin are absent (although it does sell access to that fibre to other suppliers). No other telco has made anywhere near the investment BT has made in fibre.

        Where government funding has come into play is in the rural (or allegedly rural) areas of the UK but even here BT still has to provide funding as part of the work.

        Therefore the original poster is probably more accurate; BT has made a major investment in fibre and others have sat on their hands and waited to see what happens. They have then sought to prevent BT recovering a high margin on their investment by calling for price regulation on something that they could have done themselves but didn't bother to do.

      2. calm fella

        You mean the BDUK funding which no other company bid for?

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Not built, but acquired...

      Vodafone bought (bits of) Cable & Wireless in 2012; C&W in turn had acquired Energis in 2005. They have quite a large fibre network of their own as a result.

    3. localzuk

      You're confusing 2 different things entirely. Vodafone are not talking about the FTTC/FTTP products that BT have invested in. No, they are talking about Leased Line fibre connectivity.

      Thing is, with leased lines, they are expensive. The provider has to lay dedicated fibre from a POP to your premises - this means digging up roads etc... Not cheap at all.

      So, I can understand the pricing that BT charges for this service. That said, there does need to be an element of absorption of costs for those areas like the one I'm in. To get a 1Gbps leased line from BT to my employer would cost us £37k+ a year. If I were in our nearest city, it'd drop down to £20k or less.

  2. a53

    Typical Voda, has everyone seen the price hikes they just inflicted on their users because the EU capped roaming charges ?

  3. ukgnome Silver badge

    Voda repel and repulse me, they are the UKIP of phone providers.

    Wanting all of the benefit with none of the commitment.

    Pay your corporation tax and then we can discuss this more.

    1. BlackBolt

      Thanks for your input there, into displaying an absolute lack of knowledge on UK taxation policy. Might want to learn what the situation actually is before trying to dilute the issue with unrelated taxation myths.

      Vodafone invest heavily in the UK infrastructure. They have a valid point here, ALL the Telcos are going to hit bandwidth problems sooner or later, they are already hitting contention problems (why do you think it looks like they don't have coverage, they do its just 'full'.) Look at Voda - O2 collaboration plans, someone has to drive the telecoms solutions of tomorrow, it certainly isn't the government at the moment (and it probably should be, why don't they build out the network and lease it back? Could be the modern equivalent of the train services, before they were sold off).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        zero corp tax paid

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So how did EE manage to launch 4G?

    Do they have their own fibre network, or do they simply pay what Voda would be be expected to pay?

    1. Bluenose

      Re: So how did EE manage to launch 4G?

      They only launched 4G in selected areas (mainly large cities). By minimizing the likely market for customers they have managed to control the growth of data throughput thus reducing their current requirement for increased fibre bandwidth.

      Once someone actually deploys a nationwide 4G network (which is Vodafone and O2s plan) the demand for data backhaul will increase exponentially with each new user added to the network since they will want access everywhere and not just in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, London, etc.

      1. Terry Barnes

        Re: So how did EE manage to launch 4G?

        "the demand for data backhaul will increase exponentially with each new user added to the network"

        Erm, no. A user can only use bandwidth in one place at a time.

        1. Terry Barnes

          Re: So how did EE manage to launch 4G?

          Why the thumbs down? How can the addition of a user to a network create anything other than a linear increase in bandwidth requirement?

          It could only be exponential if each subsequent user requires more bandwidth than the previous one, which is plainly nonsensical.How many users would you need to add before the next user requires more bandwidth than has ever existed in the world, ever, just for themselves?

  5. bishbosh

    “Vodafone has some of its own fibre” I think “some” is a bit of an understatement – don’t forget they bought Cable & Wireless Worldwide back in 2012 and acquired their existing fibre network with it.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: C&W fibre network

      Yes my understanding is that Vodafone did purchase the C&W global fibre network (including the undersea cables) and the C&W satellite network...

      I suspect that Vodafone are either not wanting to invest further in the C&W infrastructure and/or are trying to hobble BT.

  6. big_D Silver badge


    T-Mobile and Vodafone, here in Germany, are offering 150mbps, not sure where the 10mbps came from? missing a zero at least, I would have thought.

    1. ukgnome Silver badge

      Re: 10mbps?

      Probably not

      I have just done a speed test on EE's 4G in Ipswich

      and to say it's crap is an understatement - currently getting 3 mpbs on the downstream and 2 on the up

      I was wondering if it's congestion, so I have carried out a test on 3G - currently getting between 2 and 4 on the downstream and between .5 and 2 on the up.

  7. brooxta

    Analsys Mason

    Sounds more like some kind of a medical company than a business with "expertise in the the key areas of telecoms, media and technology" [from - note the additional "y" in the domain name] :-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This article seems to be confusing two different things. Ofcom's ruling was about broadband Internet products, but Vodafone would be bonkers to build a telco network from that. Telcos buy Ethernet private circuits and the price for those *is* regulated.

    1. Steven Jones

      Sensational headline trumps reading The Register's own news items...

      Indeed, it's hardly unusual for The Register to confuse telecom products. Indeed in 2012 the Register actually published an item over Ofcom's proposed regulation of BT's leased line pricing outside of London. However, a sensationalist headline seems to trump proper research, even when it's stuff they've published themselves.

  9. BlackBolt

    The missing element of the 4G conversation is the contention ratio. Sure everyone and their dog knows its supposed to be faster *subject to your location, the weather, day of the week, Andy Murrays tennis score... but the real benefit is the ability to maintain a stable connection all the way to the 'edge' of the network (unlike ropey old 3G). Think of it as upgrading the M4 from 3 lanes to 25 lanes. Where it used to look like there was no network (there was, you just didn't have a ticket to eat at the table) there is now massive capacity for way more connections.

    This all comes back to being able to actually handle the traffic, which is didgy considering BT have a monopoly and Virgin can't / won't be forced to share.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Think of it as upgrading the M4 from 3 lanes to 25 lanes.

      The M25 exceeded it's 10-year future traffic forecast the day it was opened, it's still playing catchup. The risk is that the same will happen to 4G. Adding 10x the capacity won't help if 100x the number of users all jump on to get the "superfast" broadband they can't get from terrestrial DSL.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "which is didgy considering BT have a monopoly and Virgin can't / won't be forced to share."

      Vodafone won't be using consumer broadband products to build their network.

      There is no monopoly - if I need a leased line (might be fibre, might not - I buy by bandwidth and SLA, not by delivery method) I can go to BT, Virgin, Colt, C&W, Verizon, and others - who all can deliver end to end on their own networks. Don't confuse domestic internet access with corporate infrastructure. Fibre delivered leased lines have been common in the UK since the late 1980's - this is nothing to do with FTTx.

  10. Jock in a Frock

    From the horses mouth.....

    I work for Vodafone as a commissioning engineer installing DWDM fibre products, and I am the Field technical prime engineer for the 4G backhaul network (from BT exchanges back into the Vodafone core). Previously I worked for Cable & Wireless.

    What we are talking about here is the BT leased circuits from the 4G cell sites to the BT exchanges (where Vodafone then pick it up). These circuits pre-date the C&W acquisition, and were rated at 100Mbps for 3G networking. We are currently upgrading these cell site links to 1Gbps.

    This is not about new fibre digs, it's about upgrading existing links to 1Gbps to cope with 4G demand. Despite acquiring the C&W fibre footprint, we are still dependent on BT (Openreach) for many cell site access circuits.

    We are also network sharing with O2 to allow both companies to roll out 4G to as much of the country as quickly as possible. From the BT exchanges, we have multiple 10Gbps DWDM links into the core, which is a meshed 100Gbps MPLS data network, with connections into our own internet backbone.

    Personally, I am on a 3G connection, and at home I have seen this improve. We are still upgrading 3G connectivity alongside the 4G rollout (the radio base stations are 3G & 4G simultaneously).

    This is a mammoth task, please don't underestimate the size of this project, the money we are investing, and the focus this has within the company. This report looks like we are trying to get the best value for money in the spend with Openreach. I wouldn't expect any other customer to do any different.

    So if that shameless plug for my employer doesn't get me a bonus this year, I don't know what will....

    1. xpz393

      Re: From the horses mouth.....

      Thank you! Makes such a refreshing change to read an informed comment, rather than conjecture.

      You guys are doing a cracking job of the upgrades... The difference in Nottingham from when I was with Voda a few years ago (hardly ever saw 3G indoors, so left for O2) to now is incredible. Since taking a 4G deal with Voda at the back end of last year, I'm yet to see anything other than 4G/3G indoors within city limits. Streaming radio in the car whilst driving around the city never falters – brilliant.

      3G is still quite elusive outside of these 4G epicentres, but if the national upgrades mirror what you've done so far in the 4G-cities, you're going to absolutely smash EE's arrogance by the end of 2015. Bring it on. Well done, and keep it up!

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