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Vodafone Australia, which has been on the ropes in recent times, has come out fighting with a series of new announcements. The most important is its belated decision to provide 4G services, initially in the five mainland state capitals.

Vodafone Australia CEO, Bill Morrow, has announce a series of improvements to the company’s network “In the latest move toward earning back customers’ trust, including what “will potentially be Australia’s fastest 4G network.

Morrow said the 4G network from June, with speeds capable of exceeding what’s already on offer to Australian mobile consumers (notice the ‘potential’ and ‘capable of’ – we’ll have to see how it works in practice). He outlined a staged roll-out to Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, and to the major regional cities Wollongong, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

“The new 4G service builds on the 3G and 3G+ network upgrades that have occurred over the past two years, showing speeds in test conditions of downloads and streaming up to 15 times the average speed of the Vodafone 3G network of 1Mbps.”

Morrow said customer feedback regarding a 4G service underpinned by a strong 3G service has guided Vodafone’s network build. “Our customers have said they want faster speeds, more coverage, and a dependable network,” he said.

“Our 3G+ and 4G technology provides them with the speed, and we will be adding nearly 2,000 additional sites this year to improve coverage for our customers where they need it most.”

Morrow detailed the many changes Vodafone has made to its business and its consumer offering in the past two years, articulating a vision for the future intended to win back many of the mobile consumers that have deserted the company in droves in recent years.

“We want to take the worry out of mobile use – be it providing a network when and where you need it most, speaking to someone who can quickly understand and help you with your needs, or removing the surprise when you receive your bill at the end of the month – we’ve reshaped our business around understanding and anticipating the needs of our 6 million customers.”

Vodafone has announced changes to data charging on new voice plans, both prepaid and postpaid; launched spend alerts for customers to avoid bill shock; and has moved some of its call centre operations back to Australia. Morrow said: “These are brave moves that in many ways are against where our competitors are focused, and they will help us earn back the hearts and minds of the Australian people. I am confident our unrelenting focus listening and acting on the voice of the customer will ensure we win.

“These initiatives – and many others - have been matched by lowering our cost structure to pass along value to our customers. These include rigorous house-cleaning which started with changing two thirds of the leadership team, nearly halving the number of non-customer facing staff and reducing operational expenditure such as high-profile sponsorships to direct investment to network and frontline services.

“We’re not done yet,” said Morrow, “but our journey is well underway and we have our sights firmly on earning back the trust of our customers and restoring Vodafone to its place as one of Australia’s most admired brands.”

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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