Vodafone Netherlands is expanding access to its 4G network to prepaid and hybrid postpaid customers (meaning those on no-term contracts). The cost of access, in addition to the standard data plan, is €2.50 (US $3.41) per month for hybrid customers and €5.00 (US $6.82) for prepaid users. Speeds claimed are up to 25 Mbps for download and 12.5 Mbps for upload. Vodafone said recently that it plans to accelerate the rollout of its 4G network in order to reach nationwide coverage by September.
Vodafone’s decision to make its LTE service available to prepaid and hybrid customers is a reminder that in developed economies such as the Netherlands, sophisticated data use has become sufficiently widespread that high-speed services are desired by a range of consumers, not just those at the high end of the market. Even those who choose to save money by going for the prepaid option are accessing the kind of content—video, for example—that requires a 4G signal in order to get full functionality. Furthermore, perhaps due to recession and perhaps due to changing usage habits in general, more and more consumers are opting to be free from the constraints of contracts—which accounts for the prevalence of hybrid setups as well as prepaid. Vodafone is wise to realize that these customers cannot be left out of the new 4G world, and to provide them with access at very reasonable rates. The operator is, of course, also aware that if 4G is to fully come into its own throughout the country, full buy-in from the customer base is required in addition to the proliferation of physical infrastructure.