Vodafone announced a range of plans and commitments that put purpose at the heart of the technology company’s operations.
At its Reinvent conference, Vodafone launched its latest disruptive mobile offering that combines device financing, trade-in, and flexible early upgrades to set a new benchmark for customer flexibility, value, and quality without compromise.
EVO puts customers in control of how they pay for their new smartphone, giving them the flexibility to decide how much they want to pay upfront for their new device, and over how long they want to pay it off, from 12 to 36 months, coupled with a guaranteed instant saving if they choose to trade in their device, and flexible early upgrades. EVO also includes Vodafone’s Unlimited Data Booster, three year battery refresh, and a two year total care warranty.
As part of its commitment to the environment, Vodafone announced it will eliminate all carbon emissions from its UK operations by 2027.
In support of the UK’s small business community, Vodafone announced the availability of free training courses for up to 100,000 small business owners, to help them gain the skills and confidence to get online, trade, and stay cyber secure.
And to support the most vulnerable people across the UK, Vodafone also announced a pledge to connect one million people living in digital poverty.
Speaking at Vodafone’s Reinvent conference, Ahmed said: “We are building a digital future for everyone – a future that’s sustainable, inclusive, and fair.”
The commitment to connect one million people living in digital poverty will be met between now and the end of 2022 through a range of programmes, including Vodafone’s Great British Tech Appeal and the ‘Buy One, Give One’ initiative for customers of Vodafone Together, Vodafone’s converged broadband and mobile package.
For every new and existing Vodafone Together household, Vodafone will provide a person in need with a SIM card, loaded with 20GB of data plus free calls and texts each month for up to a year. To ensure the connectivity reaches those who need it most, the SIMs will be distributed through the Trussell Trust’s UK network of 1,300 food bank centres.
In addition, this summer Vodafone – in collaboration with Global, the media and entertainment group – will be launching a campaign to raise awareness of digital exclusion and calling on the UK public to help tackle the issue.
The pledge to connect one million people is the next stage of Vodafone’s long-term ambition to tackle digital exclusion.
Lions, England and Saracens Rugby Union star, Maro Itoje, will be partnering with Vodafone over the next three years to continue to raise awareness of the digital divide and what can be done to tackle it.
“I’m extremely proud to be the ambassador for this brilliant new Vodafone initiative, helping give connectivity to many people in desperate need and raising awareness of this huge issue in our society,” said Maro. “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.”
Ahmed Essam, Vodafone UK CEO, said: “Today’s announcements put tackling digital poverty and doing the right thing at the heart of our business. Over the last year, people across the UK have realised just how important connectivity is, and the major role it plays in so many vital aspects of our lives – from working, learning, and accessing healthcare, through to having fun and keeping in touch with those closest to us.
“We have done our best to support people since the start of the pandemic – the NHS, schoolchildren, those out of work. Today we are committing to helping one million more people get connected, and to developing the knowledge and confidence necessary in a society which increasingly demands a digital connection.”
Max Taylor, Consumer Director at Vodafone UK, said: “In 2019, we shook up the market with 5G at no extra cost and Unlimited data plans. Now we’re changing the market again. With budgets squeezed for so many people, we’re launching a completely new way of buying a smartphone focused on ensuring our customers are in control and getting the best possible value. Vodafone EVO allows customers to get the smartphone they want at the price they choose.
We are setting a new benchmark for flexibility, combining the benefits of device contracts of up to three years, a market-leading trade-in service, and the option to upgrade from one year. We’re putting the customer in charge – we’re giving them unbeatable flexibility and value, but making sure they don’t have to compromise on quality, with a great network, a great loyalty programme, and great service.”
The Trussell Trust, whose network distributed an unprecedented 2.5 million emergency food parcels over the last year, will use its 1,300 food bank centres across the UK to distribute the SIMs to people who could benefit most from the free connectivity. In the last five years, the need for food banks in the UK has risen by 128%, and research in 2020 found that 95% of people at food banks in the Trussell Trust network were destitute, meaning they were unable to afford to eat or stay warm and dry. Connectivity is often something these households cannot afford.
Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Over the last year, we’ve seen more people than ever struggling to afford the basics and forced to use food banks to get by. This isn’t right. We know households at food banks have, on average, only £57 a week after rent to cover their living costs, and one in five have no money coming in at all. In a society which depends on readily available internet connectivity to gain access to vital support such as Universal Credit, having a smartphone isn’t a luxury – for many it’s a lifeline.”