Vodafone is beginning to make its presence felt in the three Central and East European markets in which it acquired Liberty Global’s UPC assets in 2019.
In the Czech Republic, for instance, we learned earlier this week that it plans to launch Vodafone TV at some stage this month, having been trialling the service internally since last December. April 1 will also see the disappearance of the UPC brand, marking the completion of the merger between the two companies.
Meanwhile in Hungary, Vodafone TV has recently made its debut and, speaking to the local press, Balázs Révész, CEO of Vodafone Hungary’s retail business, revealed that the company is exploring the possibility of new streaming providers like Disney+ coming to the country with the help of Vodafone.
In Romania, Murielle Lorilloux, CEO of Vodafone Romania, revealed as far back as last August that the team charged with integrating UPC’s operations with those of Vodafone’s would be composed of employees from both companies and work for at least two years. Once the integration is complete, the new entity will be one of the largest fixed and mobile operators in the country, with an annual turnover of €1 billion.
Late autumn Vodafone and UPC launched joint offers, and earlier this year Vodafone made all Discovery Group channels on UPC also available on its TV service. More recently, Vodafone Romania introduced – in what was a first for the company – new special offers aimed solely at entrepreneurs and SMEs.
Yet while Vodafone is clearly making significant progress in all three markets, this comes against the backdrop of strong competition. In the case of the Czech Republic, Vodafone TV will find itself up against O2 TV, operated by the incumbent, while in Hungary there is a three-way split among the leading providers of electronic communications services between Magyar Telekom, Digi and Vodafone/UPC. Romania, of course, is a very dynamic market and still awaiting the sale of Telekom Romania, with Digi and Orange the most likely buyers.
What is clear, however, is that Vodafone is in a much stronger position following the UPC acquisitions and now a key player in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.