Vodafone New Zealand disappointed in FibreX judgment and intends to appeal both conviction and fine

Vodafone responds to the Commerce Commission

For the past few years, we have been responding to a Court case brought against Vodafone by the Commerce Commission about the historic marketing from 2016 to March 2018 of our HFC service (which uses fibre-optic and copper cabling). At that time, we were marketing the service to customers under the brand name of FibreX.

A fine of $2.25 million has been handed down for this historical marketing. The Judge’s findings and sentence relate to the historical marketing of FibreX from 2016 to March 2018. We are very disappointed with the outcome and respectfully disagree with the Court’s decisions.

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. Our appeal will set out our strong belief that there are several errors with the original conviction decision and that there are aspects of the FibreX judgment that simply misunderstand the services we sell and are not in the best interests of consumers or future competition.

Vodafone has spent over $25 million on improvements to HFC, and the service is a well-performing, price-competitive product. The March 2022 Commerce Commissions independent SamKnows broadband measurement report noted that 100% of HFC Max plans were all able to stream 4 simultaneous UHD Netflix streams, offering an equivalent experience to Fibre to the Home plans in this respect.

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 3rd 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.

HFC is a remarkable broadband solution, offering high-speed internet at a lower price than Fibre to the Home with an easy installation process. 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. As this matter is now before the court, Vodafone will not be commenting further at this time.

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