Not to be outdone by the likes of Telstra and Optus, Vodafone Australia is set to nudge $2 billion in spend on its mobile network and technology in 2017, despite reporting a half-yearly loss of $81.5 million.
Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) revealed on 1 August its price tag for its increase network coverage, capacity and performance during 2017.
News of the new network spend for 2017 comes as Optus reveals plans to set aside $1 billion towards the improvement and expansion of its mobile network in regional Australia, and almost a year after Telstra said it would pump $3 billion into new network investments.
Reporting on the company’s half-year results for the six months ending 30 June 2017, VHA CFO, James Marsh, said the company’s current network capability is a key driver of its performance.
“We have a world-class network and are continuing to invest heavily to make it even better for our customers, including in regional areas where we are building or upgrading around 450 sites this year,” Marsh said.
“Already, the VHA network reaches more than 22 million Australians, and is recognised as the top-performing network in cities with populations above 100,000. And we’re only going to build on that into the future.
“In 2017, we are putting close to $2 billion into mobile technology, including almost 1,800 new and upgraded sites, spectrum licence payments, and our continued fibre transmission rollout,” he said.
While the company has dished out for network nous, it has reported a year-on-year loss of $81.5 million for the first half – although this is a decrease of 50.3 per cent from the same period the previous year, which came in at around $163 million.
At the same time, the company’s total customer base grew by approximately 190,000, to 5.7 million, in the period, representing a 3.5 per cent increase, year-on-year, while pre-tac earnings (EBITDA) increased by 15.9 per cent, to $477.3 million.
Looking forward, Marsh flagged “big plans” for the second half of 2017, including a major postpaid refresh and the company’s planned fixed broadband launch.
“Preparations for our fixed broadband launch are also ramping up, and we know that many Australians are currently unhappy with their current internet service provider,” Marsh said.
The results come just days after Vodafone Australia announced that customers connecting to its National Broadband Network (NBN) offering will be offered complimentary internet access via the company’s mobile network while they wait for their fixed broadband to be installed.
The move, which is no doubt a nod to the seemingly mounting number of NBN-related complaints being logged by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) as the network rollout ramps up, involves the use of Vodafone’s Wi-Fi Hub modem.
With the company set to launch NBN services later this year, the company has employed the new modem to provide customers with both a fixed and mobile broadband connection.
“Over the last year, we have spoken to many Australians about their internet experience to understand their concerns and needs,” Vodafone general manager of fixed broadband, Matthew Lobb, said.
“They have told us that they don’t care about the kind of technology their internet runs on, they just want it to work,” he said.