Vodafone rethinks comms as UK battle for 4G heats up

LONDON: Vodafone has put Portland on alert as the mobile operator raises the stakes in the UK's 4G battle.

LONDON: Vodafone has put Portland on alert as the mobile operator raises the stakes in the UK's 4G battle.

The British mobile giant is in early stage discussions about its government relations account after more than five years with Portland, which has been invited to re-pitch for the work.

The review comes as Vodafone prepares its 4G network services in the UK at the end of this month in a bid to make up ground lost to rival EE.

PRWeek UK understands the network upgrade will be a key focus of the brief, thought to be worth approximately £10,000, or about $15,500, a month.

A Vodafone source said that political demands to use 4G as a driver of UK growth and the involvement of the UK government in the rollout means the mobile industry is facing a wide range of policy issues.

Also likely to affect agency work is the integration of business telecommunications from Cable & Wireless, acquired for more than £1 billion last year, and recent scrutiny of the company's tax payments.

Aleyne Johnson, senior government affairs manager at Vodafone, said that “as with all big companies, we review our external support from time to time to ensure that it is most relevant to our strategic goals.”

“This is particularly important to Vodafone, as we are one of the most high-profile British companies, with numerous political stakeholders, and operate in a fiercely competitive, fast-moving but heavily regulated sector,” she added.

EE has amassed almost 700,000 4G customers since receiving the green light to launch its service ahead of other operators last fall after the government brokered a deal heading off legal wrangling between the industry and Ofcom.

Earlier this month, Vodafone handed Ogilvy London a global consumer comms brief. Ogilvy won the account as Vodafone, the world's second-largest mobile operator, prepares to unveil an international consumer comms strategy after ending its multimillion-pound sponsorship of the McLaren Formula 1 team earlier this year.

This story originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK.

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