Vodafone Italia has rebranded its Red Unlimited plans and is giving subscribers smartphone repair services for free when they acquire a device at full price or in monthly installments, according to a report. The Red Unlimited plans were described as the operator’s first fully unlimited mobile tariffs when they were launched in October 2018 to mark the expansion of its 4.5G LTE Advanced Pro network. They have now been renamed Vodafone Red Unlimited Smart, Vodafone Red Unlimited Ultra and Vodafone Red Unlimited Black. The Black plan includes unlimited data, voice calls and SMS plus 1,000 minutes of international calls and 5 GB of roaming outside the EU for €39.99 (US $44.95) per month instead of €59.99 (US $67.43). Smart and Ultra come with 40 GB and 60 GB of data for €18.99 (US $21.35) and €24.99 (US $28.09), respectively.
Subscribers with compatible phones in 17 major cities throughout Italy will be able to use the plans to browse at top speeds of up to 1 Gbps under the operator’s Giga Network 4.5G. They will also be able to access Vodafone’s 5G network at no extra charge when it is activated. In addition, anyone who acquires a smartphone in combination with the Ultra or Black plans will receive one free display repair and one free device repair every 12 months, under the Red Care scheme.
This rebranding with discounts plus incentives seems to be a way for Vodafone to promote its 5G services ahead of time. When the Red Unlimited suite was launched last fall, it was intended to promote the operator’s 4.5G network. While it still fill that function, it is noteworthy that when the 5G network is activated, Red customers will get access to it at no extra charge. Operators cannot assume that all customers will sign up for 5G; a recent survey showed that in the U.K., a very developed market, only about 12 percent of mobile customers are expected to move to 5G as soon as it becomes available. Incentives and persuasion will be needed. Free access is, of course, best, but the other perks that come with the Red plans will likely also help.
One aspect that is particularly relevant is the unlimited data. As we have written on many occasions, getting customers habituated to using more data is key to upselling them. Of course not all the Red Unlimited plans have truly unlimited data, but all are generous; after a period of time using large amounts of data on a 4.5G network, a Vodafone Red customer can be expected to want to upgrade to 5G because of the possibilities it will offer for even greater speed and data consumption.
While the free device repairs being offered are unlikely to be decisive, they are appealing incentives, and operators have long known that getting the latest devices into the hands of subscribers is an essential part of fostering greater network use.