Business models

Vodafone’s femtocell pricing is wrong

By June 18, 2010 13 Comments

Earlier this year I bought a femtocell from Vodafone, a product/service they have branded Sure Signal.  As you may know these devices plug into your broadband router at home and act like a mini-base station improving the mobile reception around your house.  Before we installed Vodafone’s Sure Signal reception in our kitchen was poor, and since we got it working (which was a painful 2 month process I won’t go into here) reception has been great all around the house.  

The fact that we have installed the femtocell is also great for Vodafone.  A small gap in their network coverage has been filled, we are less likely to churn now (both Fiona and I would have to leave Vodafone at the same time and get a new femtocell as well as new phones) and probably most importantly our calls and data traffic are now routed over our Virgin broadband connection instead of Vodafone’s network.
That is all good, principally because there is more capacity on the broadband networks than on the mobile networks.
What bugs me is the pricing.  
  • Firstly we paid Vodafone £50 for the Sure Signal box which I only need because their network coverage isn’t what it should be and once I have it installed reduces their costs by taking traffic off their network and putting it onto another network (which I pay for separately.
  • Secondly the calls that are made from our Vodafone phones and routed now through the Sure Signal over the VirginMedia network are counted as part of our price plans in the same way as normal mobile calls
  • Thirdly, and this is the killer that I learnt this morning, data routed through the Sure Signal will count towards monthly limits under the new 3G tiered data plans

To me all this is wrong, by charging consumer for the privilege of taking traffic of its network Vodafone is having its cake and eating it.  Instead they should be giving the box away and carving out calls and data sent over the Sure Signal from monthly bundles.