ComCom investigation into Vodafone's 'Fibre X' drags on

Consumer calls the campaign misleading.

Visiting Wellington over the past couple of days, I was struck by the fact Vodafone is still aggressively promoting its “Fibre X” plans.

Back in June, Consumer warned that relaunching Vodafone Cable as “Fibre X” had the potential to mislead customers. People might think they’re getting a UFB fibre connection when they’re not.

So what is Fibre X?

“Let’s start with what it isn’t. It isn’t a fibre connection,” tech commentator Bill Bennett told NBR back in June.

“It does have ‘fibre’ in its name – hybrid fibre coaxial cable.

“It’s a relatively old-fashioned technology that used to be used for delivering TV."

The HFC cable was originally laid around parts of Wellington and Christchurch by Saturn, which became part of TelstraClear, which was taken over by Vodafone. Despite a pep-up and some new electronics, it is just not fibre.

Mid-year, the Commerce Commission agreed there was an issue, and launched an investigation.

So where is that at?

A spokeswoman for the ComCom said, “The investigation is ongoing.” She could not provide a ballpark timeline or any other details.

Consumer chief executive Sue Chetwin took a fatalistic approach when updated by NBR, saying “This is pretty typical. They do take a huge amount of time to carry out these investigations.”

Vodafone stands by its promotion. Earlier, consumer director Matt Williams said his company had spent tens of millions upgrading the service now known as Fibre X. He does not believe reports of peak-time congestion on the service are correct. 

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