Vodafone Hutchison Australia is expecting another 12 months of challenging conditions, after its customer base fell by 443,000 in calendar year 2012, smashing its financial prospects.
The mobile telco reported the numbers in financial filings late yesterday (pdf). The company now has about 6.6 million customers, including those of mobile virtual network operators that resell on the Vodafone network.
"VHA is implementing a turnaround plan with the full support of both of its shareholders, and has made meaningful inroads in stabilising customer numbers and financial performance," Hutchison Telecommunications Australia (HTA) chairman Canning Fok said.
"Although continuing losses are anticipated in 2013, [we] expect improvements in VHA's performance through the year and into 2014".
Vodafone and HTA each own half of the local operation, Vodafone Hutchison Australia. Clues that customer losses were continuing were contained in Vodafone UK's recent results, which contained a breakout on the Australian joint venture operation.
The customer losses translated into financial woe for the telco. Hutchison said that its share of VHA's net loss for calendar year 2012 was $408.8 million, which media reports said implied a total loss in excess of $800 million.
Coinciding with the results announcement, a law firm pursuing a class action against Vodafone over network problems in 2010 said it could file the action in as little as three months.
The telco is continuing a sustained period of investment in its network and last week revealed early test results on its 1800 MHz LTE network in parts of Sydney.