Sunday, 05 February 2017 16:32

Vodafone tackles blackspots, ramps up investment in regional mobile network Featured

Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta

Vodafone continues to invest heavily in its mobile network in regional Australia, particularly in blackspot areas with limited or no network coverage, in response to what it says is growing demand for advanced mobile devices and services in regional areas.

Vodafone Australia chief executive Inaki Berroeta says the telco is “competing vigorously” to improve and expand services in regional Australia.

“By working with government and participating in the Mobile Black Spots Programme, we are seeking to expand access to mobile coverage for regional Australians to help deliver all of the economic and social benefits it enables.

"More than ever before, customers look to mobile communications to stay in touch with family, friends and business colleagues. Customers in and around Molong, Manildra, Cargo, and Cudal will benefit from enhanced coverage and network performance.”

Berroeta’s comments follow last Friday’s announcement by NBN Co, the company building the National Broadband Network, that it had signed a deal with Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA) as the first customer to switch on services in the regional NSW area of Molong — a region identified as a major blackspot impeding mobile coverage — using the NBN’s Cell Site Access Service (CSAS).

The Molong area was identified as needing improved mobile coverage in phase one of the federal government’s Mobile Blackspot Programme, and is the first blackspot area to be addressed directly with the help of NBN infrastructure and products.

Vodafone says its network investment in Molong will bring 155 square kilometres of additional mobile phone coverage, including over 860 homes in the region plus along the Mitchell Highway, especially for small business and customers towards Larras Lee, Garra, and Amaroo.

Last year, Vodafone also expanded its mobile network in Manildra and Cargo, delivering another 231 square kilometres of improved total coverage to 472 homes in the region.

Vodafone says its new site in Manildra specifically brought mobile coverage along state and national highways, including Orange Road, Kurrajong Road, and the thoroughfare between Boree and Manildra.

And, the Cargo site delivered coverage between Cargo and Orange including towards Canowindra Road, Grenfell Orange Road, Cargo Road, and Davys Plain Road.

Berroeta  says Vodafone plans to switch on another site in Cumnock under the Mobile Black Spot Programme before the end of the first quarter of 2017 which is expected to deliver an additional 333 square kilometres of coverage between Molong and Cumnock, as well as up to Cundumbul and up towards Garra and Amaroo.

He said the delivery of the Cumnock site would address some known mobile blackspots in the Calare electorate.

Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee said: “Black spots in Calare have been a source of irritation for quite some time, so it's great to see them being cleared up under the Coalition Government's Mobile Black Spot Programme.”

“They are an impediment to country business expansion and can be downright dangerous in an emergency, when help is needed fast. It’s vitally important that we keep chipping away at these blackspots.”

The Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash says round one alone of the Mobile Black Spot Programme would deliver 499 mobile phone towers covering some 3000 coverage blackspots across Australia, “extending coverage to 26,000 homes and businesses that previously didn’t have it across 165,000 square kilometres”.

“I aim to help build the kinds of communities our children and grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to and good telecommunications is a big part of that.

“Being a farmer from central NSW myself, I know how important mobile coverage is and I’m proud the Coalition is delivering it to Molong, Manildra, Cargo, and Cudal, and shortly to Cumnock.”

Berroeta says to encourage people in Molong, Manildra, Cargo, and Cudal to trial its network, the telco is offering new customers a money-back 30-day network satisfaction guarantee.

“Under the 30-day Network Satisfaction Guarantee, if a new post-paid customer is not satisfied with Vodafone’s network within the first 30 days, they can cancel their contract, no questions asked.

"Vodafone will also refund any monthly access fees and monthly handset instalments paid by the customer as long as the equipment and device are returned to a Vodafone store within 10 days of making the claim. The 30-day Network Satisfaction Guarantee is also available for business customers with up to nine connections.”

In conjunction with the revamped 30-day Network Satisfaction Guarantee, Vodafone is also offering unlimited data for the first month to new customers who sign up to a selected 12- or 24-month phone plan to use within Australia.

Berroeta says the new network guarantee demonstrates that Vodafone is prepared to “walk the talk on network satisfaction and ultimately put the power in people’s hands”.

“Our new guarantee is an invitation for Australians who may be feeling unsatisfied with their current provider to experience everything Vodafone has to offer.

“We have invested significantly in our 4G network in recent years, and Vodafone’s 4G network is performing better than ever. We are proud to offer a guarantee which demonstrates our commitment to being transparent about our network performance. With our new program, people don’t need to take our word for it, they can experience the difference for themselves.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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