Kogan returns to mobile

a12VxHXJo6AI9WfHfDxgo3udW1ugWAVxjV89mztBqXMVodafone has followed its $1 billion deal with TPG Telecom by partnering with online retailer Kogan, which is returning to the mobile game two years after being forced to the sidelines.

Vodafone Australia will provide network and services to Kogan Mobile, which is offering budget plans that initially include only 3G data.

It marks a return to the telco sector for the online-only retailer best known for electronics and household appliances.

Kogan Mobile had 120,000 customers when it disappeared in August 2013 with the collapse of Telstra wholesaler ISPone.

Vodafone Australia CEO, Inaki Berroeta, said the way in which Kogan reacted – refunding all outstanding balances and helping customers move to competing networks – helped persuade him to agree to what both parties call a “long-term” partnership.

“The way that Kogan handled that problem – explaining to the customer, refunding every customer – this has been greatly appreciated by customers and has enabled Kogan to get back into the market,” Berroeta told AAP.

Kogan Mobile executive director, David Shafer, conceded that the demise of ISPone, which had also billed some users for breaching limits on supposedly unlimited plans, had been “a pain in the bum” for customers.

He said Kogan was confident of success now the company had a direct agreement with a major network.

“Pretty much after services were suspended last time, we started having conversations to rekindle Kogan Mobile but we knew it had to be done in a long-term sustainable way,” Shafer told AAP.

“What happened last time wasn’t in the control of Kogan. Our supplier was taken from under us.”

Supermarket giant Coles has also announced its own branded prepaid mobile service, using the Optus network, which had supplied TPG until the broadband provider signed to Vodafone in September.

Berroeta conceded that Vodafone could lose some customers to Kogan Mobile, which is offering unlimited call and text with 3GB of data for as little as $24.65 per month for those willing to commit for a year.

A comparable SIM-only Vodafone plan costs $40 per month, but also includes much faster 4G data, which isn’t scheduled to roll out on Kogan Mobile until 2016.

“We can deliver to Vodafone a budget brand like Jetstar does to Qantas, where they can really leverage all the money they spent in their network through a budget offering to a specific cohort of customers,” Shafer said.

The length and financial detail of the Vodafone and Kogan contract have not been disclosed.



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