Vodafone is on the rise, with the last two years spent heavily investing in ditching the "Vodafail" moniker. At the mid-year briefing this morning, Chief Executive Officer Iñaki Berroeta and Executive General Manager Enterprise Stuart Kelly outlined the telco's plans for customer service, pricing plans, fixed line rollout and 5G tests.
"We are gearing up for 5G," Berroeta announced, "At the end of the year there will be a 5G demo on Vodafone's network."
Vodafone are working with "a number of partners" for its 5G offering, and the trial — which will be a lad-based exercise — represents the first opportunity to see and experience what customers will ultimately get.
"The network won't be here until 2020," Berroeta added. "We've got a 4G network to look after".
"NBN was futuristic," said Berroeta, "But now we can take a closer look at consider it".
"NBN is now reaching a number of households, close to 5 million, and we are looking very closely and investing a lot of time and money into seeing if this is something we want to enter into in the future."
"We are looking at more opportunities in the market and NBN is a significant part of that".
"We are getting better at customer complaints," Berroeta said, "but we have minimised the chances for customers to make those complaints".
Berroeta said coming from where Vodafone was two years ago favourable Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman TIO results are a "significant achievement for our business, and comes off the back of significant investment".
Vodafone have recently showed off the new and imporoved 4G network, using it for live broadcasts on Nova FM and Channel 7.
"July was Vodafone's best commercial month ever," Berroeta revealed.
Vodafone have "enhanced" enhanced the number of countries for $5 roaming — which now totals 60 countries around the world. Being practically our neighbour, New Zealand is free.
Vodafone's "create your own" price plans, where you can pick and choose the minutes, international calls and data inclusions you want, is "proving successful".
Vodafone now have 22 million Australians under 4G network coverage.
"Telstra has more coverage — especially in rural areas," Berroeta acknowledged, "That is part of the problem. What we aim is to reach as many Australians as possible, bridge the divide by creating competition, investing in black spots and looking at more opportunities".
"There is a divide between the services that Australians enjoy in the cities versus what Australians can have outside the cities," Berroeta said. "We have been working on making this a more competitive market, but we have also been advocating for the public money available to be used in a better way".
Berroeta said Vodafone's involvement in the Black Spot program is an example of this, but the telco's public policy agenda is also "helping make this market even better".
"Customers are using more and more data everyday," Berroeta said, reporting usage of over 3G per month per customner, representing a 70 per cent growth year on year as outlined in the Open Signal Report.
Vodafone's app in partnership with the Garvan Institute, which utilises the the processing power of idle phones to power a supercomputer conducting cancer research, has reached 60,000 downloads.
"We have 550 sites fibred up through our TPG arrangement," Berroeta said. "We have many more sites on fibre, but 550 are TPG".
The 700 MHz Spectrum
"We made the proposal to the Government around April/March, where we suggested for us to buy the spectrum at the same rate of auction two years ago — the same price Optus and Telstra paid," Berroeta revealed. "Now we have a new Government, and we are waiting on them to make a decision."
Capitalising On The Telstra Outages
"I don't know how much the network outages have affected Telstra," Berroeta said. "We are working on our own network and are happy with how we are going."
"People in the Australian market are realising there are alternatives," he went on to say." We are gaining customers from Telstra, and Optus."
"Unlimited data is not something that works well in general because the spectrum is limited," Berroeta said. " This trend around offering unlimited services, there is an opportunity. Things will go that way, but true unlimited is too difficult when you have a limited spectrum".