Vodafone will work to gain traction in the enterprise market by securing contracts with public safety agencies this year, according to chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen.
While the telco has had an enterprise sales division in the past, the company exited the market in September 2012, the same year its customer base fell by 443,000 and a major cost-cutting drive saw it axe 500 jobs, following the so-called 'Vodafail’ movement in 2010.
The company quietly re-established an enterprise unit in the first half of last year, after CEO Iñaki Berroeta declared the mobile operator’s post-Vodafail turnaround was complete.
Hanssen today said the enterprise end of the market would be an important focus for the company in 2016.
“We’re looking at opportunities now that we’ve stabilised the company, now that we’ve rebuilt our mobile network,” he said.
“We’ve re-entered - where we had exited a number of years ago - the enterprise market last year. We’re making a lot of investment in products for that enterprise market. And we’ll continue to go deeper into that enterprise market.”
Hanssen identified public safety mobile as a potential growth opportunity for the company, after the Productivity Commission handed down a report knocking back the spectrum demands of emergency services organisations last week.
The Commission calculated that setting aside spectrum and building a national mobile communications network for the exclusive use of public safety agencies would cost roughly $6.2 billion, $4 billion more than it would cost to buy access on a commercial mobile network.
“We are very happy with the outcomes with Productivity Commission when it comes to public safety and how the Productivity Commission has advised the government it’s preferable to use public networks to provide public safety services," Hanssen said.
“That’s an area, because it has been a closed shop traditionally, we are really looking into what we can do.
“And that’s where we’re closely collaborating with our New Zealand colleagues, because they are really strong in that public safety space.”
Hanssen declined to name any current Vodafone enterprise customer, instead citing the company’s growing position in the small business market following a partnership with COSBOA (the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia).
“It’s still mainly small to medium sized enterprises that we talk to right now, we want to rebuild that business and rebuild credibility. The way we’re structured at the moment we’re more ready to deal with those, and that’s hundreds of companies,” Hanssen said.
“There’s lots of companies between five and 100 employees. It’s not the big names yet, but they’re coming along.
“And because we’re new, or re-entering that space, we’re in a really good position to adopt a lot of the new technologies easily because we don’t have to deal with the legacy.”
First sites on TPG backhaul
Hanssen also revealed Vodafone had connected its first mobile phone towers to TPG’s backhaul network, following a 15-year partnership worth more than $1 billion signed last September.
Under the deal, TPG will extend its current fibre infrastructure by around 4000km nationally to provide dark fibre to 3000 Vodafone cell sites, the majority of the telco's sites. The deal will span 15 years from the point each site is connected.
The deal will also see TPG eventually shift its 320,000 mobile customers onto Vodafone’s network.
“I think [implementation of the deal with TPG] is progressing very well. It’s a multi-year program because it covers over 3000 sites and building fibre. You can see how quickly the NBN goes about it. I can tell you we go a lot quicker,” Hanssen said.
“There’s still a lot of work, but we have a number of sites already that have been connected but the bulk is still to come… But it’s progressing slightly ahead of target at this point. The total number in terms of scope is still small because we’re still in the early stages.
The companies previously stated they expect the dark fibre to be deployed to most of the existing network by 2018.