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Vodafone chief confirms UK TV plan, highlights quad-play risks

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao last week confirmed that the mobile operator would launch a cloud-based TV service in the UK later this year and said that this company would respond aggressively in the fixed-line business to any discounting by rivals in mobile.

Colao, speaking on an analyst call following the company’s third quarter results, noted that TalkTalk is already involved in mobile and Sky seems determined to enter the market, and said that “the more aggressive the non-mobile people are in mobile, the more aggressive we will be on TV and on broadband”.

Colao said that he hoped “the whole convergence bundling game” would result in higher take-up and usage but that it was possible it could also lead to price wars and declining ARPU. However, he said that much would depend on how all players in the market behaved, rather on how Vodafone behaved on its own.

Colao said it is essential that regulators look closely at BT’s acquisition of EE, which would create a converged service provider considerably larger than any of its rivals. He said that this would apply not only to access to BT’s next-generation network but also to content.

“The more you see quad-play take off in Europe, the more…regulators will need to make sure content isn’t used in conjunction with a strong customer base and a strong network to reduce competition,” he said.

Colao said he was more concerned about BT’s power in the converged market than about pay TV operator Sky entering the mobile market.

Addressing a question on rumours about Vodafone’s interest in Liberty Global, Colao said there was not much to say, but added that, as Vodafone had acquired two cable operators, it made no sense to deny that Vodafone could be interested. He said that strategically, “cable assets make sense” but that each country and each asset had to be considered on its own merit.