Technology

'History won't repeat itself': Vodafone on network problems

The telco expects its new 4G network to reduce the technical problems that plagued it in the past.

Vodafone Australia's chief technology officer says there is "no way" history will repeat itself when it comes to the network problems the telco faced in 2010.

But new Australian chief executive Inaki Berroeta has refused to recommit to a pledge by the company's former chief, Bill Morrow, that it would recover from customer losses by the end of 2014.

Vodafone Australia's new chief executive says network problems won't resurface.
Vodafone Australia's new chief executive says network problems won't resurface. Photo: Vodafone

"There is no way that history is going to repeat itself," Vodafone chief technology officer, Benoit Hanssen, said. "Our network is very robust ... it's very versatile, it's flexible," he said.

"We have two engineers running the company," Mr Berroeta said to reassure people that the technical problems that plagued service and drove customers to competitors would not resurface.

However, Mr Berroeta, who has been in the job since January after leaving his post as Romanian Vodafone chief, was reluctant to recommit to a pledge about customer numbers by Vodafone Australia's former chief Bill Morrow.

Mr Morrow, who is now chief executive of NBN Co, the company building Australia's national broadband network, said that by the end of the year Vodafone customer losses would turn around.

"2014 will be where you see that indicator as a turnaround of the company and I'm quite confident about that," Mr Morrow said in September before leaving the company.

Despite this, Mr Berroeta did not want to make the same commitment. "I'm very reluctant to commit today to anything," he said. "What I don't want to do is ... set a target before I have a clearer view of how we are performing in the market and how we are going to perform in the market.

"I need to set my targets for this year yet, but we'll see. I think we are very close to becoming a [net] positive business."

Mr Berroeta said that while Vodafone Australia had been in the black a year and a half ago, he believed the telco's new 4G network would help turn its customer losses around.

In the 2013 calendar year, Vodafone's total customer base declined 1,231,000 to just over 5.3 million.

"I think that the dynamics of the market have changed dramatically," Mr Berroeta said.

"So it is important for me also to understand how that is going to continue. But I'm very confident about the business. I don't know if it's going to be in the middle of 2014, at the end of 2014, in February or April [when customer losses turn around].

"I will come out with some targets that we will set for the business. But I think we are very close because the foundation is very solid."

The telco also disclosed on Wednesday that its mobile networks - 4G, 3G and other types - covered 96 per cent of the Australian population.

Vodafone had stopped disclosing its coverage area for years until Wednesday.

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