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Vodafone to avoid Unitymedia box swap-out as it integrates TV offering

Vodafone plans to integrate the TV service of Unitymedia, Liberty Global’s German unit which it acquired last year, with its own Giga TV offering by upgrading the software on the existing Horizon set-tops deployed in the Unitymedia footprint rather than by doing an expensive box swap-out, according to Vodafone CEO Nick Read.

Nick Read

Answering an analyst question on Vodafone’s latest earnings call, Read said that the group’s technical teams had been “working on the ability to flash the existing boxes so we don’t have to replace in the Unity footprint”.

He said that the upgrade had been trialled and that “it’s worked”. However, he added that the upgrade involved “a delicate execution”.

Read said that upgrading the Unitymedia boxes in this way was a “synergy opportunity” for Vodafone.

Vodafone began marketing Vodafone products to Unity customers and vice versa tat the beginning of September last year.

CFO Margherita della Valle said that Vodafone had made a fast start to integrating Unitymedia that had “fully validated all of our synergy assumptions” and increased the cmopany’s confidence that it can deliver €535 million in annual savings.

In addition to integrating the management team, cross-selling products and migrating DSL broadband customers to Unitymedia’s cable network, the company has centralised all procurement activities.

The Unitymedia business will be rebranded over the next six months, with TV customers migrated to Vodafone TV platform. The national and regional network backbone infrastructure, will begin in the next financial year, which begins in March, and IT and billing platforms will be consolidated, she said.

Separately, Read dismissed persistent rumours that Vodafone would look to sell its Spanish business, which saw some improvement in the last quarter.

“I just want to make it very clear that we are not engaged with any player in the Spanish market. We have never put a price on that business ourselves. It’s part of our core European footprint,” he said, in response to an analyst question on Vodafone’s intentions in the market.