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Ouch! Almost 250K Vodafone Oz Customers Walk

By Oonagh Reidy & Computer Daily News | Thursday | 23/05/2013

Red alert: Another blow for telco, as customers leave in droves.

SYDNEY - Vodafone Hutchison Australia appears to have lost another 216,000 customers in the quarter ended Match 31 - bringing the total of customers lost in the past two years to more than 1.5 million, according to some estimates.

A new earnings report by the UK-based Vodafone group recorded its Australian operation as losing 108,000 subscribers in Australia. 

Given that it shares the Australian operation 50:50 with the Hong Kong-based Hutchison group, analysts are suggesting this translates to a 216,000 loss for VHA overall.

It is believed Telstra is one of the main beneficiaries of the mass desertion of customers from Voda. In the previous quarter VHA reported a loss of 128,000 customers. 

Best estimates are that since 2010 when repeated outages ('Vodafail') and other problems saw many customers depart, VHA has lost approximately 1.5 million customers. (Ouch). 

Since then, Vodafone has been pouring money into upgrading its 3G network, and is planning to launch a 4G service - which it claims will be Australia's fastest, due to its 1800MHz spectrum holdings - later this month.

However Vodafone Australia CEO Bill Morrow has previously said that he does not expect the company to begin to see a turnaround in customer numbers until towards the end of 2013.

CDN asked VHA for comment on the latest reports of customer desertions but had not received a reply at press time.

The telco is in major catch-up mode as it gets set to launch its 4G network - the last of the big 3 telcos to do so - in a bid to scrape some customers back on its faster mobile service. 

Rival Telstra has over 2 million subscribers and Optus recently said it sold over 750,000 4G smartphones. 

UK analysts Enders were far from impressed with Voda's latest Q4 results, and warned of dangers in its "leisurely" network  rollout. 

"Vodafone is investing in 4G on a leisurely timetable, planning to upgrade only 40% of sites to 4G by March 2015, and is seemingly more concerned about securing fixed fibre access than driving mobile." 

"The March quarter growth may mark a nadir of sorts, but we believe a return to positive growth can only come when Vodafone apes its US associate and invests substantially in its network to truly differentiate."

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