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The launch of KPN’s 4G network in the Netherlands
KPN case Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Caption: The 4G network being launched in Amsterdam by (from left to right) Eberhard van der Laan, Mayor of Amsterdam, Joost Farwerck, member of the KPN Executive Board, Eelco Blok, CEO of KPN and Henk Kamp, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs.

KPN – the largest telecom provider in the Netherlands - purchased the frequencies for its 4G network in December 2012 and started operating the network commercially just six weeks later. The network for customers in Amsterdam was launched on 4 February 2013. Customers throughout the rest of the Netherlands were then connected to the network in a single continuous wave. As well as lightning-fast logistics, the rollout and operation of the superfast network called for excellent marketing and communications specifically designed to promote the new proposition in the market. This was the task undertaken by Hill+Knowlton Strategies, together with the KPN Business Market, Consumer Market and Corporate Communications Departments.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies was responsible for the communications strategy for all stakeholders, both during the launch of KPN’s 4G network and during the rolling out of the new network. Hill+Knowlton also developed the corporate story and the key messages presented as part of the launch strategy. The aim was to ensure that all stakeholders were aware of the following USPs of KPN’s 4G network:
  • KPN is the first telecom provider to offer 4G services in the Netherlands.
  • KPN is providing a fast roll-out as a single continuous wave.
  • The internet speed of 4G networks is up to 10 times faster.
  • 4G offers customers better mobile coverage and a better mobile experience.
By involving relevant stakeholders at each stage of the rollout process, Hill+Knowlton Strategies ensured that the status of the rollout of the 4G network was transparent to everyone from the start. Media representatives, politicians, experts, burgomasters, aldermen and celebrities were all called in to help present communications about KPN’s 4G network. Care was taken to create distinctive and innovative storylines with high news value.
The specific elaboration of the strategy was based on five cornerstones:
  • Announcement and launch in Amsterdam.
  • A review programme for media representatives and influencers.
  • Regional launch events for the press and stakeholders.
  • Additional press updates at key moments during the intervening period.
  • And – last but not least – the launch of KPN’s new 4G subscription packages.
The 4G network was launched in Amsterdam in the presence of Eberhard van der Laan, Mayor of Amsterdam, Henk Kamp, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Eelco Blok, CEO of KPN. During the review programme dozens of media representatives and stakeholders were offered the opportunity to experience KPN’s 4G network and could then report back on their experience and ask questions during press updates in the intervening period. At the regional launches Hill+Knowlton Strategies always made sure that there was a clear link with the local community, whether that was the high-tech economy in and around Eindhoven or local celebrities in Utrecht. Press updates were scheduled in the intervening period to announce things worth reporting, such as in the middle of June, when KPN announced that it was speeding up the roll-out of the 4G network. The launch of KPN’s new mobile subscription packages included both offline and online advertisements. These were preceded by a series of individual media interviews, which demonstrated both the relevance of 4G technologies and KPN’s firm belief in the developments that the new 4G network offers for consumer and business use.

Caption: Author Ronald Giphart and 3FM DJ Coen Swijnenberg look back on a summer in Utrecht captured on video with KPN 4G. They filmed their experiences in Utrecht in the summer of 2013 with a 4G-enabled device.

Since launching its 4G network KPN has explicitly positioned itself among all of its stakeholders as the first (and initially the only) telecom provider to offer 4G services. The USPs of KPN’s 4G network were clearly conveyed to, and well received by, the business and consumer markets. Belief in the credibility of 4G as a new technology – and the validity of the investment that KPN had to make to introduce 4G technology – has increased in both public and political opinion. The investment in the PR and communications programme paid off ten-fold in terms of media value. By the end of the third quarter of this year KPN had managed to sell 200,000 4G subscription packages. And sales continue to exceed expectations. Research has shown that the number of potential customers has increased by dozens of percentage points in a matter of months (, November 2013).