Since first launching 4G connectivity last year, Vodafone's network has stretched to over 47 regions throughout the nation. And now, in an effort to take this a step further, the red telco is adding a little international flavour to its offering by extending this service to several international destinations.
Speaking at a conference held this morning at the Air New Zealand Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre, Vodafone's chief executive Russell Stanners and consumer director Matt Williams announced that the telecommunications company was launching two new initiatives: daily roaming packages in 17 countries throughout the world; and 4G connectivity in five countries.
Stanners explained that the rationale underpinning this service was to enable customers to use their mobile phones exactly how they do when at home.
"What we did last year was introduce Data Angel overseas, which was to meet a real customer requirement. [It] was about eliminating bill shock. Too many customers talked to us about when they used their data particularly, they ended up with some signifcant surprises. They tried to be good at using it, but they got major bills. So, we were the first to introduce data angel to eliminate bill shock for our customers. But when we talked to [our customers], they said, 'hey, we need to do more than that. We want to use our mobiles exactly how we do in New Zealand'."
This premise is clearly evident in Vodafone's new TVC, which again plays on the FOMO theme established in the bowl cut ad that was released last week. The new 30-second spot features Rolleston and his misstepping co-conspirator Wade sitting on a bench in New York City. While the media-savvy Rolleston is connected to the internet via his phone, Wade claims that he's deterred by the cost and that he believes that nothing much is going to happen in any case. A flash across to his home in New Zealand quickly reveals that he stands to win a million dollars, that his car has been destroyed and that his girlfriend is breaking up with him. (The TVC starts at 2.42 in the video below)
So, in an effort to shift consumers away from experiencing Wade's misfortune, Vodafone has released the 'Roam like you're at home' package, which allows Vodafone subscribers to use their New Zealand data packages (for five dollars a day) while visiting certain countries.
Speaking after Stanners, Williams, who was recently interviewed by StopPress, took to the stage and said that this new offering is largely attributable to the fact that Vodafone is a multi-national company.
"We have a huge [global] footprint, so we are launching this in 17 countries. That includes Australia, where half of New Zealanders travel to, and also the UK and US, so that's almost two thirds of New Zealanders travelling to those places. We also cover all of Europe and a few other places too. Very soon we will be adding more and more countries to this – which again is one of the amazing things about Vodafone, being part of a global company, makes all this possible."
He then went on to justify the daily connectivity fee of five dollars by pointing out that it's affordable when compared to other expenses that travellers encounter when they're visiting abroad.
"We think five dollars is a really fantastic charge. To put it into context, if you go to Sydney, you'll face the following charges: you catch a taxi from the airport, that's 49 bucks; you go to the hotel, and if you're not smart enough to get Vodafone daily roaming, you might have to use their Wi-Fi service, and that's 22 dollars; if you're on the street and get lost, you have to buy a map, and that's eight dollars; all the time you walk around, you're probably paying for insurance and that's six dollars a day; or, if you just stop at a cafe for a coffee, that's five dollars. So for the price of a coffee per day, you can now stay connected with voice, text and data across 17 countries where most New Zealanders travel to," said Williams.
Although the reach of 4G connectivity isn't as wide, Vodafone has also announced that the service will be available in certain countries.
"Today we are launching 4G roaming in five countries: Australia, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Greece. And we have many more countries that are coming soon. [Previously], Vodafone had the largest 4G network in New Zealand and today Vodafone has the largest 4G network in the world," said the consumer director.
Williams says that decision to extend the 4G service internationally has been made because of the service's popularity in New Zealand, but it also makes commercial sense due to fact that it encourages increased data usage.
"We have very rapid uptake of 4G in our customer base. Our people are buying 4G phones and they're taking the 4G service. And what we see when they do that is that they're using more and more data, because it's such a great experience. 4G users usually use about two to three times the data of 3G users. We know that this is a fantastic experience for them in New Zealand, and now they will also have that experience when they're travelling."
And given that travelling customers are removed from their home-based broadband connection, this data usage is likely to be even greater when they connect from abroad—even more so when the modern trend of flagrant self-promotion is taken into account.