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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 10:40 GMT
Vodafone joins broadband brigade
Man walking past a Vodafone shop

Vodafone is to become the latest mobile phone group to move into the broadband market with the launch of its 25-a-month At Home service.

The service, which should be available to most of the UK, will be available to contract customers from 8 January.

Unlike many rivals, Vodafone will rent internet access from BT rather than build its own broadband network.

As well as unlimited broadband, At Home will offer discounted calls to mobiles and free landline-to-landline calls.

Customers will also get a modem that will allow them to access the service, which will offer downloads with speeds of up to 8 Mb.

Vodafone will also provide a free technical helpline. However, the offer does not include a mobile handset.

In September, the group said it had agreed a deal with BT that would allow it to enter the broadband market without having to invest in a fixed line network of its own.

Stiff competition

A number of other mobile operators, including French-owned Orange, have begun offering bundled packages of services to their customers.

Carphone Warehouse and BSkyB, meanwhile, have announced cut-price broadband packages.

But surviving in this marketplace is a challenge, analysts said.

Stiff competition in the sector prompted the UK's second-largest telecoms group, Cable & Wireless, to leave the retail broadband market recently.

And on Thursday BT said increased competition meant that its share of new broadband customers fell to 25% from 30% in the three months to the end of September.

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