Vodafone goes after SMBs with new business plans and apps

Vodafone is hoping to add more business customers by offering flexible plan offerings and free or low-cost productivity and cloud storage apps.

Vodafone Australia is eyeing a more prominent role in the SMB sphere, with the announcement of a new suite of business-centric plans and access to third-party apps.

The telecommunications carrier's new Business Flex plans allow small and medium-sized businesses to curate their own mobile phone plans, ranging from AU$30 to AU$150 per month.

The plans all include unlimited text messages and national calls, data of up to 20GB per month, AU$5 per day global roaming, the capability to share plan inclusions across all employees, a personal account manager based out of Vodafone's Tasmanian service centre for companies with 10 or more employees on a Business Flex plan, the telco's 30-day Network Happiness Guarantee, up to 10,000 Qantas Acquire points, and an "optional technology fund" to aid businesses in purchasing new smartphones and tablets.

Stuart Kelly, Vodafone's executive general manager for Enterprise Business, said the plans enable businesses to only pay for inclusions they need.

"Business Flex offers an alternative, which means businesses only pay for the essentials and can purchase add-ons as they see fit," Kelly said.

"We have heard that many businesses are disappointed and fed up with the overall value and service they are receiving from their current provider.

"We are also proud to offer Australian businesses with ten or more connections a single point of contact to focus specifically on serving the needs of their business and delivering best-in class customer service."

Vodafone's expanded Ready Business Apps portal, meanwhile, now includes Norton Small Business, Dropbox Business, MozyPro, Xero, and Office 365. GoDaddy and Google Apps for Work will be added later this month.

The telecommunications provider is also throwing in a two-month subscription for Dropbox Business, Norton Small Business, Xero, and GoDaddy Website Builder. Thereafter, Dropbox starts from AU$34 per month for two licences; Norton Small Business starts at AU$10.83 per month for up to five devices; Xero starts at AU$25 per month for one employee; and GoDaddy Website Builder costs AU$14 per month, while MozyPro costs AU$10 per month for 10GB of storage; Office 365 costs AU$7 per month per licence; Google Apps for Work starts at AU$5 per licence per month; and GoDaddy Domain's lowest-cost offering is AU$12.99 per year.

According to Kelly, the financial management, productivity, business building, and data security apps were chosen after a "comprehensive review of the core communication requirements and needs of Australian small businesses".

"We found through our research that mobility and office enablement were common needs across numerous industries and business sizes, so we have designed our Ready Business Apps range to ensure that whether you're a graphic designer, a plumber, a retailer, or real estate agency, your business has the tools it needs to help grow and run more smoothly, all at the touch of a button," said Kelly.

Kelly claimed that Vodafone's new plans and app suite are of significant value for businesses when combined with its recent network investments.

"It's clear that Vodafone's network is holding its own. Our 4G network is reliable and resilient. We are proud to back our network investment with a Network Happiness Guarantee, which means if you join us and you're not happy with our network in the first 30 days, you can cancel your contract and only pay for what you've used until the cancellation goes through," the head of Enterprise said.

Vodafone has recently expanded its 4G network nationwide by purchasing AU$68 million worth of 1800MHz spectrum; refarmed its 850MHz spectrum band to bring coverage to regional and metropolitan Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory; proposed to the Australian government that it be permitted to pay AU$594.3 million for 2x 10MHz in the 700MHz spectrum band that was unsold in the 2013 auction; and last week announced an investment of over AU$9 million to be spent on constructing 32 new mobile base stations across the country.