Thursday, 27 February 2020 05:47

Vodafone mobile customer base shrinks, says first 5G site to go live soon Featured

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Iñaki Berroeta: “In 2020, we look forward to implementing the merger, subject to any ACCC appeal and further approvals, and delivering benefits to both VHA and TPG/iiNet customers." Iñaki Berroeta: “In 2020, we look forward to implementing the merger, subject to any ACCC appeal and further approvals, and delivering benefits to both VHA and TPG/iiNet customers." Courtesy Vodafone Hutchison Australia

Vodafone Hutchison Australia says it will activate its first 5G site within a few weeks even as it released its full-year results for 2019 showing that it lost 275,000 mobile customers in 2019. The first lot of 5G sites are likely to be in and around Parramatta in NSW.

The company's acting chief financial officer, Sean Crowley (below, right), said in a statement on Wednesday the company had not been in a position to adopt a more pushy approach to increasing its mobile customer numbers in 2019.

The company reported a full-year net loss of $279.3 million in what could be its last annual results before the TPG merger is completed. It has never turned a profit since being set up in 2009.

VHA chief executive Iñaki Berroeta that the company was proceeding with necessary change in the wake of the Federal Court's ruling on its merger with TPG Telecom.

The company faced uncertainty during the year, due to the ACCC having challenged the merger and also due to the Federal Government's ban on the use of 5G equipment from the Chinese telecommunications vendor Huawei Technologies.

Sean Crowley 2019 corporate headshot“We are very excited to be pushing ahead with our plans for 2020 by delivering our first 5G sites within weeks, with the initial rollout to continue throughout the year,” Berroeta said.

“These will be the first of over 650 5G sites in progress. Several thousand sites are to be built over the coming years, with the merger to enable acceleration.”

He said the company had taken a disciplined commercial approach in 2019, emphasising the quality of its mobile network and customer service, and selecting a new 5G vendor. Towards the end of the year, the company announced that it had picked Finnish firm Nokia to build its 5G network.

“In 2019, we managed the uncertainty by taking a deliberate focus on commercial stability, so we are pleased with our EBITDA result,” Berroeta said. The company recorded 6.9% year-on-year EBITDA growth in 2019.

Crowley said: “In our first full year in the fixed broadband market, our Vodafone NBN base more than tripled, with more than 40% of customers connected to the 100 speed-tier."

The first 5G device that VHA will sell is the Samsung Galaxy S20.

The full-year results:

  • EBITDA of $1178.7 million, a 6.9% year-on-year increase from $1102.2 million;
  • Total revenue of $3523.4 million, a 2.8% year-on-year decrease from $3626.4 million;
  • Mobile ARPU of $33.35, a 4.9% year-on-year decrease from $35.05 (due to an accounting change);
  • VHA net loss of $279.3 million, a 124.5% year-on-year increase from $124.4 million.
  • Fixed customer base of 114,000, a 245.5% year-on-year increase of 81,000;
  • Total mobile network customer base of 5.744 million, a 4.6% year-on-year decrease of 275,000;
  • Post-paid mobile customer base was 3.416 million, a 1.1% year-on-year decrease from 3.454 million;
  • Pre-paid customer base was 2.018 million, an 8.6% year-on-year decrease from 2.209 million and the MVNO customer base was 310,000, a year-on-year decrease of 12.9% from 356,000.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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