Vodafone sets global SLAs for mobile services

Agreements cover how fast customers will receive phones and SIM cards, but don't discuss penalties against Vodafone

Vodafone has introduced global SLAs (service level agreements) for its managed mobility services, including voice and data. The goal is to offer large enterprises better transparency and predictability, it said on Wednesday.

The new SLAs include guarantees for how fast Vodafone will send new SIM cards and mobile phones, which it will do in two and three days, respectively, and how fast it will respond to, for example, a BlackBerry server that goes down, according to Mark Street, spokesman at Vodafone Group. Customers will also get a monthly SLA performance report, he said.

The offer, which Vodafone's Global Enterprise customers will get without any additional costs, will at first be available in 15 countries, including the U.S. (via Verizon Wireless), the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain, according to Street.

Vodafone will also offer extras for a fee, including coverage in additional countries, enhanced service levels and a centralized interface for billing inquiry and resolution.

Vodafone didn't provide details about what will happen if the SLAs aren't met. It will send customers the report, and then discuss the results with the customer, according to Street.

However, large companies will demand some sort of penelties, according to Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner.

The SLAs will especially be a boon for large enterprises with central purchasing, which have been asking for something like this for a couple of years, according to Wallin. In the past they've had to contend with different service levels in different countries, which has been costly and complicated, he said.

But even if SLA's have been sorely needed for a couple of years, Wallin didn't want to criticize Vodafone too much. "You have to be humble to the fact that it's complicated to put something like this together," said Wallin.

The launch also puts pressure on FreeMove -- an alliance that includes Orange, Telecom Italia, T-Mobile and TeliaSonera that was created as a counterweight to Vodafone, according to Wallin.

FreeMove already offers the Service Performance Indicator, which provides detailed information on all the service and quality metrics a major customer will receive from FreeMove operators, alliance spokesman Derek Austin said via e-mail.

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