Vodafone may consider exclusive content deals, calls for BT split

Vittorio Colao

Vittorio Colao

Vodafone could consider bidding exclusively for premium content if conditions demand that approach, even though it “philosophically” would prefer to be a non-exclusive distributor, according to CEO Vittorio Colao.

Answersing analyst questions after Vodafone’s quarterly results at the end of last week, Colao said that “Vodafone will need to have content” in markets where it serves broadband customers.

Asked about Vodafone’s interest in the forthcoming Bundesliga auction in Germany, he avoided answering directly.

However, Colao said that “the bigger our customer base, the more exclusivity can be considered”, and added that, while he believed that exclusive deals led to higher prices, “if someone starts bidding for content, [if] you have a big customer base you need to be there”.

Colao said that Vodafone “philosophically” preferred a non-exclusive content role as distributor on the model of Liberty Global.

Colao also called for Openreach to be split from BT and has said that if this can’t be done, there should be close regulation of access conditions, including access to content.

Colao said that the UK should not allow the “re-monopolisation” of telecoms through BT’s hold on Openreach and acquisition of EE.

He said regulators should “have a serious look” at splitting BT, whjich he said was neglecting fibre in favour of VDSL and technologies because “that will strengthen their hold on the market and limit competition”.

Colao said there was currently a lot of uncertainty about the “future landscape of fixed line” in the UK and regulators would have to take big decisions on fibre, broadband access and “potentially on cable”.