Vodafone launched several eye-catching initiatives today at its Reinvent 2021 virtual press conference, including a new market-beating mobile offering, an ambitious pledge to help close the digital divide, and new carbon reduction targets.
Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s new UK CEO, kicked off the virtual event that put connecting the disconnected at the core of the company’s strategy.
Journalists, analysts and Vodafone partners watched Ahmed outline his vision to create a digital future for everyone that is “sustainable, inclusive and fair”.
We are going to shake up the market, with new commitments and propositions that will make us a champion for our customers, and for the communities we serve
(Ahmed Essam, CEO, Vodafone UK)
Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, announced the company’s pledge to connect one million people in digital poverty by the end of 2022, with the Buy One, Give One initiative at the heart of this pledge.
For every new and existing Vodafone Together customer, the company will donate a SIM card to someone in need of connectivity in partnership with the Trussell Trust food bank charity. Each SIM comes with 20GB of mobile data each month, as well as unlimited calls and texts, for up to a year.
“Digital poverty will not go away when COVID finally ends. This is a problem with deep roots and there is no vaccine to fix it. So, we need to stay engaged and make big and lasting changes,” said Helen.
Maro Itoje, Lions, England and Saracens Rugby Union star, will partner with Vodafone to raise awareness of the digital divide.
“Vodafone’s work during the pandemic stood them apart – and it’s fantastic to see this work continuing with a long-term commitment to make this change for good and fix digital poverty together,” he said.
Max Taylor, Consumer Director, announced EVO – a new way of buying a device with a mobile plan that allows Pay Monthly mobile customers to choose not only how much they want to pay up front for their smartphone, smartwatch or tablet, but also how long it will take them to pay it off – from 12 to 36 months.
EVO includes numerous other benefits for Pay Monthly mobile customers, said Max.
“This combination of device financing, Trade-in, and flexible early upgrades – in one proposition – sets a new benchmark for others to follow,” he said.
Andrea Donà, Network and Development Director, announced that Vodafone will eliminate all carbon emissions from its UK operations by 2027 as part of its commitment to fighting climate change. He also pledged to reduce carbon emissions from Vodafone’s suppliers by 50% by the same year.
“We don’t underestimate the scale of this challenge,” he said. “It means we have to look at every aspect of our network and our technology estate.”
Andrea also emphasised the importance of OpenRAN, not only to Vodafone’s plans to strengthen and extend its UK network, but to the very way the company – and the telecoms sector – works.
“In an OpenRAN world, upgrading your network or switching vendors does not mean changing your entire network. It is no longer a time-consuming and expensive exercise,” he said.
“It also accelerates our transformation to becoming a tech comms company, allowing us to build our own technology and develop our own software skills.”
Anne Sheehan, Business Director, gave an overview of Vodafone’s work with businesses and the public sector. 5G is enabling surgeons to collaborate remotely; helping Ford streamline its electric car manufacturing operations in Essex through the use of a mobile private network; and giving life to the marine tech testbed at Plymouth Sound, she said.
In his closing remarks before taking questions from the press, Ahmed said: “Yet again, we are going to shake up the market, with new commitments and propositions that will make us a champion for our customers, and for the communities we serve.
“I’m really proud that we’re putting our purpose at the heart of everything we’re doing. We can truly say that we’re enabling the UK to connect for a better future.”