Vodafone chief says 'sorry' for 3G network

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Vodafone chief says 'sorry' for 3G network

Suggests issues are at an "individual" - not network - level.

Vodafone chief Nigel Dews has apologised to customers for the way it has dealt with a slew of 3G network issues in recent months without any explanation of the root cause of the problems.

The carrier has been under sustained pressure from customers after weeks of dropped calls and slow data speeds.

It blamed a "software fault" for the issues on its 3G network and claimed the issues were resolved; however, it since suffered an apparently unrelated transmission outage in Western Australia that cut services for three hours in that state.

And it faced continued embarrassment as customers vented their anger in lengthy Whirlpool forum threads and on a new site called 'Vodafail'.

"Having customers who are happy with their service and their network experience is central to us, but unfortunately in recent weeks, some customers have had a disappointing and frustrating experience which I am very sorry for," Dews said.

"Looking at your comments on various blogs including here on our own, it's clear we could have done a better job at keeping you across what's been happening."

Despite the apology, Vodafone did not explain "what's been happening" and continued to downplay the extent of the problems, describing them as "intermittent" and as impacting only "some" customers.

And Dews also appeared to try and deflect criticism of the company's network as a whole, putting the blame on issues at an "individual" - rather than a whole-of-network - level.

"We have been working with customers on a case by case basis to understand individual situations, resolve the issues and see what we can do to put things right," Dews said.

Questions about the ability of the Vodafone 3G network to support smartphone and mobile data growth were raised as early as June 2009 in an internal newsletter leaked to iTnews. The newsletter exposed coverage, degradation, dropouts and echo as users' biggest bugbears.

Dews urged unhappy customers to seek support directly from Vodafone.

The competition watchdog has already said it does not advocate unhappy customers walking away from their contracts.

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