Vodafone to roll out 4G lure
Vodafone will launch its 4G super-fast mobile network across major capital cities in June in an attempt to bridge the large gap between it and rivals in the cut-throat mobile phone market.
The company is using the launch of the 4G network as part of its overall strategy of stemming the heavy loss of customers since late 2010. The company lost 423,000 customers last year, according to Vodafone's figures.
But chief executive Bill Morrow said the new 20-megahertz spectrum technology would allow its network to have greater speed than Telstra and Optus' existing networks.
"At least for a period of time, we will have the fastest 4G network in Australia," he said. "We will have a bit of a differentiation point that no one else has," he said.
Vodafone, the country's third-largest telco, is fighting an uphill battle against Telstra and Optus. Telstra has developed a significant first-mover advantage in its superfast 4G network and continues to invest heavily in it to maintain its "network supremacy".
Mr Morrow also predicted that as customers shift towards smartphones, tablets and other data-heavier devices, carriers would start to charge more for data according to tiered plans.
"If you look at places that had competitive high broadband shift, that has actually occurred," he said. "In the US, telco operators such as Verizon and AT&T charge customers a progressively higher price as they use more and more data.
"It will be too much of a shock to try to change that," he said. "But it won't surprise me at all to see the entire industry over the course of next 12 to 18 months make those changes."
Mr Morrow also revealed the extent of Vodafone customers' dissatisfaction with it, quoting the net promoter score, a closely watched industry figure that measures customers' loyalty.
The net promoter score is the ratio of advocates to detractors.
The Vodafone boss said long-term customers who signed up before the carrier's well-publicised network failures problem rated the company at negative 11; "post-crisis" customers gave Vodafone a score of negative 27. The industry average in Australia is between negative one and two.
Mr Morrow said "green shoots" were appearing and new Vodafone customers who signed up in 2012 gave the company a score of positive four.
"I think with the soils that we turned over, the seeds that we planted, the changes that we made, those customers are feeling it and willing to step out and say something about it."