Vodafone heats up wireless broadband war with $40 a month offer

Vodafone has heated up the action at the budget end of the broadband market with a new $40 4G wireless broadband plan with a 60 gigabyte data cap.

The price of the “Gold Plan” includes a home phone line and free calls to national landlines.

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Vodafone says the new plan “is available in large parts of urban and regional Aotearoa, and includes an easy-to-install modem you can set up on your own with no need for cabling to be installed.”

Wireless broadband uses a mobile network to deliver fast internet to a specific location, such as a home or office, dispensing with the need for a landline. Performance depends on mobile reception in your area.

But while it’s cheap, is 60GB enough data for a household in 2021, given single evening of Netflix can easily eat up 5GB?

After all, UFB network operator Chorus said yesterday that the average home’s monthly broadband use has jumped from around 100GB in 2016 to about 500GB today as people do more of their viewing, and office collaboration, online.

“Lots of our customers tell us they don’t want to stream videos all evening,” Vodafone acting consumer director David Redmore says.

“They just want to stay connected and have the ability to make calls or access online services, so they can complete their internet banking, browse the web or answer emails for example.”

He points out that, last year, the Australian Government released a report prepared by the Bureau of Communications and Arts that estimated an individual’s basic data needs to fall between 2GB and 20GB per month, to be able to participate in the digital economy.

For those who do want to mainline Netflix, Vodafone has 300GB ($55/month) and 600GB ($65/month) 4G wireless broadband plans.

And the telco recently launched a 5G wireless broadband plan with endless data for $69 per month and unlimited data at unlimited speed for $79 per month, with both plans including its Super Wifi product for spreading broadband to all corners of your home.

5G fixed wireless speed can be fibre-like. Testing in five locations found all seven episodes of The Queen’s Gambit (a Netflix series) could be downloaded in under a minute, in high-definition to boot. But again, performance will depend on mobile reception in your area.

Spark counters

A spokeswoman for Spark said the telco’s cheapest wireless broadband deal costs between $65 and $85 per month depending on data usage – with $85 being for uncapped data.

“However, as of Monday we will be offering a $20 discount per month for all new Spark wireless broadband customers who sign up before the end of April,” she said.

“This means new customers can get wireless broadband for between $45 and $65 (uncapped), depending on usage. In addition, until October we are also offering a $150 store voucher when customers join Spark broadband.”

Spark subsidiary Skinny offers wireless broadband plans for between

Skinny’s Wireless Broadband plans are between $45 and $65 per month depending on data usage – with $65 being for uncapped data and $45 being for 60GB. You get $10 off if you’re also a Skinny Mobile customer but do have to pay $99 for a wireless broadband modem.

Spark was first to 5G wireless broadband as it piloted the technology in five small South Island towns in late 2019 (Westport, Clyde, Alexandra, Twizel, Tekapo and Hokitika).

The telco has since added 5G mobile and wireless to five towns and cities over the past year: Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Te Awamutu, and parts of central Auckland and Dunedin CBDs (see a coverage map here).

2degrees offers a $60 per month 4G wireless broadband plan with a 120GB data cap. The telco says it will begin its 5G upgrade before the end of this year.

While Vodafone and Spark both offer fibre broadband, too, both telcos have recently been pushing wireless broadband hard – and will be ramping up their efforts as their faster 5G mobile networks expand.

Vodafone says it wants to move 25 per cent of its fixed broadband customers to wireless broadband over the next couple of years, while Spark has set an ambitious 30 per cent to 40 per cent target.

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