Kogan Mobile relaunches on Vodafone network

Vodafone Australia will provide its 3G mobile network to the freshly launched Kogan Mobile, with 4G services coming in early 2016.

Vodafone Australia has announced that it is wholesaling its 3G mobile network to electronics manufacturer and retailer Kogan, with 4G services to launch in early 2016.

The deal, announced on Monday morning by technology entrepreneur and Kogan CEO Ruslan Kogan, Vodafone Australia CEO Inaki Berroeta, and Kogan executive director David Shafer, will resurrect Kogan Mobile to provide 3G-only, high-data mobile plans for subscribers.

Kogan's short-lived tenure in the mobile industry during 2013 was marked by an unfortunate deal with ISPOne to resell Telstra 3G services.

The 115,000 customers who signed up to Kogan Mobile used far more of the low-cost service than ISPOne had accounted for, which resulted in ISPOne blocking Kogan customers from using data. Kogan took ISPOne to court for the incident, winning damages for the losses suffered from ISPOne suspending its customers.

ISPOne was unable to recoup the costs from wholesaling the service to Kogan to pay its Telstra bills, and entered voluntary administration. While Aldi Mobile reached an agreement to begin wholesaling directly through Telstra, Kogan Mobile reached no such deal with the incumbent telco.

According to Shafer, the Vodafone deal is sufficiently different to its previous Telstra network service to provide customers with security.

"This time, Kogan Mobile has cut out the middleman in a direct deal with Vodafone," said Shafer.

"This means we'll pass on savings to consumers whose service will be reliably delivered by Vodafone. This time, we have a network ally in Vodafone that is really willing to support us, isn't scared of competitive pricing, and has an interest in seeing Kogan Mobile succeed in the market. And that's how we're able to offer a massive amount of data with unlimited national calls and texts at amazingly low prices."

Kogan Mobile's 3XL plan will provide 3GB of data and unlimited national calls, texts, and MMS for AU$29.95 over 30 days, AU$79.95 over 90 days, or AU$299.95 over 365 days, while the 5XL plan offers 5GB of data and unlimited nationals calls and texts for AU$36.95, AU$99.95, and AU$369.95 over the same periods of time.

Extra data costs AU$14.95 for 2GB for a 30-day period, with network services available from today. All Kogan handsets will now be shipped with a free Kogan SIM card.

Vodafone last month also announced that it had signed a AU$1 billion deal with TPG to make use of the dark fibre infrastructure owned by TPG, the number three fixed-line operator, with the latter in turn using the mobile network of Vodafone, the number three mobile operator.

Under the AU$900 million, 15-year dark fibre deal, TPG will build out an extra 4,000km of fibre to connect Vodafone's cell towers across Australia by mid-2018, which the companies forecast to cost between AU$300 million and AU$400 million in capex.

"For customers, it will mean a higher-performing, 5G-ready network, which will enable exciting future opportunities such as virtual- and augmented-reality applications," Berroeta said in a statement.

TPG will also be shifting its 320,000 mobile customers from current provider Optus to Vodafone, with customers being offered bonus data as an incentive to move networks, according to TPG chief operating officer Craig Levy.

"We are excited and moving into the future. What it gives TPG -- it gives us the ability to keep up with the market," Levy said.

"If you look at us in the last two years, we haven't kept up with the pace as much as we'd have liked to. This gives us the opportunity ... to be more aggressive in the marketplace, and hopefully improve what has been a little bit of a declining mobile business."

Updated at 1.03pm, October 19, 2015: Added comments from Shafer; added details on Kogan Mobile plans.

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