Vodafone starts selling NBN (with a 4G backup)

The telco is promising to get you through the connection phase and outages, but the footprint is limited for now.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
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Claire Reilly
2 min read

Vodafone is now officially selling home broadband.

After teasing a launch since last year, the telco opened orders for its NBN service on Monday both online and in-stores.

The telco is kicking off service in a limited number of cities, offering NBN to residents in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Newcastle and Geelong. You won't need to be an existing Vodafone customer to sign up, but there are sweeteners (like increased data allowances) for Voda's mobile customers.

The other big point of difference? A 4G-enabled modem that Vodafone says will automatically get you connected as soon as you get it out of the box, and which will switch on mobile service when there's a fault with your connection.

It's an interesting time for Vodafone to enter the fray.

The telco has certainly been the major player missing from the NBN space, with mobile rivals Telstra , Optus and even mobile resellers like Amaysim all offering a fixed broadband offering over NBN's network.

But it's not like Vodafone is walking into an easy market. The NBN has made headlines for issues around speeds and outages, particularly in recent months, with complaints to the industry ombudsman on the rise and providers like Telstra being forced to offer refunds for customers for over-promising speeds to customers whose connections could not deliver them. 

Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta says the Vodafone NBN experience will be different.

"We are putting customers first," he said. "If our customers are unable to receive the service they paid for, or if there's a problem with their installation or line connection, they're not going to be left in the lurch."

The company's general manager of fixed broadband Matthew Lobb reiterated this point, saying Vodafone's competitors were not giving the best experience when it leaving customers disconnected during the connection phase and during outages.

"Legacy telco players are using processes of legacy broadband and applying that to the NBN," he said.

Still, while the 4G connection provides a good backup, don't expect to ride that 4G lightning every time your NBN connection slips below ultra-fast. The mobile SIM installed in Vodafone's modem will be throttled to a download speed of 12Mbps, and will only switch on when Vodafone detects an issue with the line.

There's no doubt Vodafone's service footprint is more limited than the other big telcos at this early stage -- Lobb says the company is taking a "measured approach" -- and recent delays on NBN's HFC network mean houses slated for that technology may still not be able to sign up, even if they're in an area covered by Vodafone.

Still, with the telco offering to waive 3 months of plan fees for new sign-ups, as well as 2GB of bonus data to use across your Vodafone mobile plan, that could be enough to get you to switch. 

You can read more about Vodafone's NBN plans here, sign up and buy a new modem online or in one of 79 Vodafone stores (and reseller stores) inside the new service footprint.