CallPlus/Slingshot to sell rebadged Vodafone mobile service
Vodafone has added another weapon in its arsenal against Telecom’s new XT network: a virtual mobile network (VMNO) operator deal with our fourth-largest internet service provider.
From August, the ISP will start selling mobile phone plans, branded SlingShot (for the residential market) or CallPlus (for business).
Like other VMNOs, Callplus/Slingshot will have access to all handsets in Vodafone’s range, plus the option to add phones it sources itself. General manager Mark Callander tells NBR he is looking into “dual mode” models that could lend his company a point of difference in the increasingly crowded mobile market.
Mr Callendar did not announce any pricing today, but said it would be aggressive, with a differentiation and killer price points achieved by bundling mobile plans with CallPlus/Slingshot voice and landline broadband plans. The company will also chase standalone mobile customers.
Virual partners to fight real threats
Vodafone and Telecom have been signing up MVNOs over the past six months. Both telcos figure it’s better that a wholesale customer cannibalises its customers than a competitor (or soon-to-launch newcomer NZ Comms). MVNOs are also a useful tool to placate the Commerce Commission as it conducts a welter of investigations into mobile market competition.
Vodafone now seems to have the cross-over ISP market locked up, having now inked MVNO deals with both Orcon and CallPlus/Slingshot the two largest non-telco ISPs (New Zealand’s top five service providers, after which there is a lot of air to number six, are 1. Telecom Broadband, 2. Vodafone, 3. TelstraClear, 4. CallPlus/Slingshot and 5. Kordia-owned Orcon). Vodafone also has two smaller VMNOs: Black+White and Compass.
Telecom has two MVNOs: TelstraClear (whose $20 a month mobile deal is tied to landline plans) and business telecommunications specialist Digital Island.
Full-blooded network access
While CallPlus/Slingshot, like other Vodafone MVNOs, will get full access to Vodafone’s current 3G network, and its pending upgrade to HSPA+/21Mbit/s, Telecom has blocked its MVNO partners from accessing its new “XT” 3G network for more than 18 months.
CallPlus/Slingshot has landline wholesale relationships with both Telecom and - in unbundled Auckland exchanges on its Red Network - Vodafone.
But Mr Callander says being blocked from XT was a key reason he chose to partner with Vodafone on mobile.