* Vodafone to offer subsidised phones from 35 euros/month
* Firm lost 639,000 clients in Q2 after scrapping subsidies
* Offer responds to escalating price war in Spain
* Telefonica only operator without cut-price smart phones in
MADRID, Nov 5 Vodafone's Spanish
division is bringing back subsidised smartphones, it said on
Monday after losing more than half a million customers in the
second quarter of this year while competitors Orange
and Yoigo gained market share.
Vodafone and rival Telefonica used Spain as a
testing ground for getting rid of the costly subsidies for new
customers and ended the policy in April and March respectively.
But both companies lost out to rivals Orange and
Yoigo, with Vodafone losing 639,000 clients in the
second-quarter, while Telefonica lost 8 3 0,000 customers between
April and August this year.
Meanwhile Orange gained 80,240 customers and Yoigo 58,069 in
the second quarter and other operators gained 238,578 customers
between them. Mobile operators are struggling to compete in a
market that shrank in August as Spain goes through its worst
economic crisis in decades with one in four people of work.
Vodafone said it would launch new mobile plans offering
customers a free choice of the latest generation smartphones
including Apple's iPhone from 35 euros ($45) a month.
The company had reintroduced subsidies over the summer, but
those offers were temporary.
The new offers will include unlimited calls and text
messages and high-speed Internet and will be available from next
week, Vodafone said.
"These are very competitive offers that can also be combined
with ADSL plans from 9 euros a month (extra)," a Vodafone
Vodafone's move is also a response to a mobile price war
that has escalated in recent months. At the beginning of
October, Telefonica cut prices by up to 40 percent with fixed
line, mobile, Internet and television bundles.
Also last month, Jazztel offered a smartphone worth
more than 200 euros for 5 euros a month if clients took a
combined fixed and mobile package.
Vodafone's decision to reinstate cut-price phones leaves
Telefonica as the only operator in Spain not offering subsidies
on a general basis. Telefonica, Europe's biggest telecoms
company by revenue, reports results on Nov. 7.