Vodafone NZ doubles down on FibreX fine, follows Comcom with appeal

Vodafone NZ doubles down on FibreX fine, follows Comcom with appeal

Dueling appeals loom over how Vodafone NZ marketed its FibreX broadband product.

Jason Paris (Vodafone NZ).

Jason Paris (Vodafone NZ).

Credit: Vodafone

A "disappointed" Vodafone NZ is to appeal a $2.25 million fine for its FibreX broadband advertising campaign as the  Commerce Commission also launches its own appeal.

The case relates to Vodafone marketing between 2016 to March 2018 of of its HFC service, which uses fibre-optic and copper cabling, that was marketed to customers under the FibreX brand.

"We are very disappointed with the outcome and respectfully disagree with the Court’s decisions," Vodafone NZ said.

"While we would rather be focusing on providing great service to current and future HFC customers and inviting customers to decide for themselves about the performance of this product, the Commission has advised us that it will appeal the fine handed down. 

"Accordingly, we must respond and will be appealing both the conviction and the fine."

Vodafone NZ said it would set out its strong belief that there were several errors with the original conviction decision and aspects of the judgment that misunderstood the services and were not in the best interests of consumers or future competition.

The telco said it had spent over $25 million on improvements to HFC, and the service was a well-performing, price-competitive product. 

The Commerce Commission's independent SamKnows broadband measurement report from March 2022 noted that all HFC Max plans were able to stream four simultaneous UHD Netflix streams, offering an equivalent experience to fibre to the home, Vodafone said.

"In addition to its outstanding performance, HFC is not subject to potential input cost rises from local fibre companies, so is good value for money. 

"As these third party fibre input costs are projected to increase, HFC is offering customers in eligible areas real choice and the ability to access a fantastic service at an excellent price point."

The fine was imposed after the court found Vodafone had offended under the Fair Trading Act during its FibreX broadband advertising campaign.

However, the competition regulator said this morning that while the sentence imposed in the Auckland District Court on April 14 was the largest-ever fine under the Fair Trading Act, it was "manifestly inadequate". 

The commission had originally sought a fine of $5.8 million.

Vodafone NZ said HFC was a "remarkable broadband solution", offering high-speed internet at a lower price than fibre with easy installation. 

"As the Commerce Commission noted in its annual telco monitoring report in March 2021, HFC was the ‘cheapest ultra-high user plan’ and we think this is a great broadband option for consumers where it’s available – in Kapiti, Wellington and Christchurch.

"We believe healthy digital infrastructure competition and maximising customer choice should be welcomed, to offer New Zealanders a wider range of broadband internet access types depending on what they value most."

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Tags regulationVodafoneTelecommunicationsfibreCommerce CommissionFibreX



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