Conroy Serves Vodafone CEO: You Suck At Regional Coverage

Ever wanted to know what it's like to be verbally slapped by a sitting Senator? Ask Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow. He just got served by Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, for accusing the government of unfairly subsidising Telstra. I have never read a quote that should have contained the word "Vodafail" than this.

The quotes came out of a telco event in Canberra covered by the Australian Financial Review. It's being reported that Conroy compared Morrow to Sol Trujillo — the ex-head of Telstra who spent his tenure giving the proverbial finger to the government.

This gets nasty, fast:

Despite advances in mobile phones, they [Vodafone] don’t want to provide services in regional Australia.
I find it extraordinary that the world’s largest mobile operator wants to close down a regional network for people they don’t service. They lost 750,000 customers due to poor service and they want to lecture to everybody, they want to cut those people off. They are doing a good enough job of that themselves.


Read Morrow's original op-ed here. [AFR]



    Well, Telstra is still around :)

      But far too expensive!

      I'm now using a Telstra mobile + Optus pocket wifi solution because Telstra is too expensive.

        Telstra's pricing has become much more competitive in recent years. Yes, they are still more expensive then Optus and Vodafone, but they also provide better coverage. You get what you pay for.

        Personally I don't mind paying a little bit extra to get a service that I know will work.

        Last edited 08/02/13 10:07 am


          I switched to Telstra late last year from 3 (Vodafone). no complaints. no regrets.

          Exactly! I chose telstra this time around for a few reasons, firstly they had the 920, which was a big deal, and second, they actually work everywhere in my house and work, whereas on optus it was only a small wedge with reception and work was totally dark!

          Yep, Telstra has certainly brought down its prices. What is important to me is coverage. It's no use having a cheap plan if it lacks coverage and cannot be used . . . and that is my problem.

          Agree. I live in regional Australia and after seeing the poor experience my friends on Vodafone (and even Optus) often have, I'm happy to pay a bit extra for better coverage and faster speeds. Telstra is still more expensive but they definitely become more competitive in recent times.


    At least Morrow is far more likely to still have his job on 15th of September this year & I think the figure leaving will be larger then 750k.

      If we were voting for a Communications Minister then he'd still have a job. It's not his fault his boss is incompetent.

        I agree. Stephen Conroy is one of the best leaders in the Australian telecommunications industry.

        I respect him a whole lot more than any telco boss going around, with a significant exception in Simon Hackett.

        Last edited 08/02/13 9:27 am

        You trying to say the internet filter wasn't his idea?

          No I'm not trying to say that, but take a look at the Liberal's NBN policy...

            ^ This.

            While Conroy's filter was a very bad idea, at least he had the stones to concede defeat and pull the plug. With the LNP, if they decide to not change the NBN rollout as is, they will just use some spin like 'Well its too late to back out now!' or 'The Labor Govt have left us with no choice but to continue their wasteful policies'

            While I would definitely throw my vote if it came down to party by leader (surely Australia has someone better than Gillard or Abbott that they can chuck in as PM) but when it comes to policy, especially around Communications, Conroy wins hands down.

            Telling Vodafone to DIAF is just icing on the cake really....

              That's my hope is that the Libs just say its too hard and expensive to switch now and go down the existing path.

              But I really do wish they had someone other than Abbott leading. As much as the LNP slags Gillard, Abbott is the only politician to have lost an election against her. We ended up with a parliament running on the vote of independents because neither leader was an attractive solution.

    Why stop at just "regional" access?

    I don't understand why anyone would want to support Vodafone; I was once a customer of theirs and it was a disaster, for me.

    rickmorgan needs to define "incompetent" as applied because according to my understanding of the word the PM is highly competent. I guess rickmorgan thinks it means anyone he does not like.

      according to my understanding of the word the PM is highly competent

      It's obvious that you've misunderstood what "competent" means.

        You've obviously mistaken "Competent" for "proficient". Strong economy, low inflation, low unemployment, strong international alliances and agreements, legislation progressing, no official corruption, major infrastructure upgraded - that would normally be regarded as a basically competent performance as a government. It's ok for you to think it could be better and want an alternative, but it's hard to argue INcompetence. Unless you are ideologically motivated to do so of course, or just use the word as a way to denigrate things not being done the way you want them.

      She's both incompetent or competent based on the angle you are coming from and what you expect of a leader. In terms of leading a government, I'd say she has done a good job by and large. She also seems to have strong support inside the party, but as far as holding popularity with the public you could argue that as the head of Australia she has done an awful job of reaching out to the public.

      It's in strong contrast to Rudd who I'd say was liked outside the party but not inside it. As with Gillard, whether he was a competent leader depends on where you stood and whether you feel a leader needs to be sellable, good at policy or must be capable of both.

    The regional network in terms of signal and coverage is actually not too bad but could be a lot better.

    The regional backhaul for data access, however, is awful. Tamworth in NSW, Whyalla in South Australia and Port Pirie in South Australia are 3 examples of places where I've been to in the last 12 months where I couldn't get more than 512kbps even in the middle of the day. These are fairly big towns and should be connected to glass (fibre) with decent capacity behind it. In every instance, Optus is significantly faster (10-20 times faster), and they haven't had massive kick-back's from government either.

    Vodafone sat on their hands hardly doing anything to improve their network from about 2003-2011 and now they are paying the price for existiing poor management.

    It's due to the very poor service in Elizabeth & Gawler (metropolitan Adelaide) that I eventually went to the TIO and called it a day. What amazed me though, is that even through that whole process vodafone kept lying to me, saying we are going to upgrade your tower on December 8th many times. This was the 7th time i'd been given exact dates about proposed upgrades on my local tower that would "fix everything" - I believed their lies many times before and I'd had enough. Well 2 months later a family member brought their phone over to my hous and the result was exactly the same - 0.2mbps down at 12pm on a Saturday (and we ran the test several times).

    Rather than tell the truth and blame the incompetencies of past/current staff and practices, it's just easier to slag off the government.

    The government aren't to blame for vodafone having such poor data speeds in metropolitan areas!

    Forget about regional network. I will never go with Vodafone when i am in Australia. I was using vodafone for over a period of 7 years abroad. But in Australia Vodafone is a disaster. Worst coverage, Worst service, Worst network. To complete one successful call, you need to go for 3 or 4 attempts.If vodafone wants to survive, they need to revive their networks,coverage issues. Then only they need to focus on plans, services etc. The basic use of a mobile phone is to get connected properly. if one provider cant do this function, they will get eliminated faster irrespective for their proven record.

    Conroy may be an arse, but an arse with a spot-on point, in this case.

    Maybe if Vodafone got the same subsidies and given the infrastructure of an entire country, it might be able to provide a regional service and prop up the rest of it's service like Telstra does?

      What government susidies did Telstra receive to build the 3G network?


          I did. I found nothing in there about providing subsidies for NextG based around the USO. I found subsidies given to Telstra to improve regional coverage. That has nothing to do with the USO (as 99% of these houses would have copper satisfying their USO anyway)

          Vodafone has been crying poor for years about subsidies. I agree Telstra has had a good time and been significantly more likely to get said subsidies for increased coverage....perhaps that's got something to do with the 4 TIMES larger amount of money they've spent on their network as a whole....

          I've no time for Vodafone while all they do is whinge Australia is a tough market. They're the largest mobile operator on the planet. If they TRULY wanted to compete in the Australian market and get decent revenue, they'd make there case to VHA HQ and go for it. Instead, VHA just want to suck profit out of them. That's their problem, not the Australian people.

          Last edited 08/02/13 7:47 pm

      Maybe...but in recent years they've had enough issues maintaining their metro networks, let alone the regional ones. Something tells me they've had bigger issues focusing on the 95% to really be too bothered with the other 5%.

    stephen conroy is still the biggest smacktard on the face of the planet.

    he is supposed to be head of that.. crazy.. computer thing.. media.. and telecom-whatcha-ma-call-it. yet he doesn't understand it. LETS FILTER THE INTERNET.

    and as for telstra.
    they charge $20 for 250mb of data.
    someone is still stuck in the 90's

      What? Telstra charge $20 for 1gb of data. What are you on about.

        Telstra hater, obviously....

        Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for them to be removed from their copper monopoly, but they've done the hard yards and spent their money on their mobile network and I'm happy to pay a small premium to use it.

    Competition is a wonderful thing and companies like Telstra understand that it takes huge investments to be a leader. We will see Optus start to come back and we will see Telstra respond, Voda seem to have forgotten that mobiles in a mature market is more then just marketing, we require and will pay a premium for quality. Yes Telstra needs to lift it's game in a lot of areas but overall it really is the company to beat.


    .....haven't any of you plebs heard of Amaysim ?

    Last edited 09/02/13 12:16 am

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