Vodafone declares turnaround complete

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Vodafone declares turnaround complete

Focus for 2015 on innovation, growth.

Australia’s third largest telco Vodafone has completed a three-year turnaround effort initiated following large-scale network and customer service issues in 2010.

The telco’s CEO Inaki Berroeta today said the company had completed its efforts to reverse a negative perception stemming from underinvestment in its mobile networks, and was now focusing on directing the business for growth.

The so-called Vodafail movement in 2010 and the ensuing threat of a later-dumped class action lawsuit spurred the company to pour money into fixing its network, improve its interactions with customers and turn the company’s image around.

Former Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow initially promised rapidly dropping customer numbers would begin to stabilise in mid-2014, but following his appointment to the role Berroeta refused to be held to Morrow’s words.

He today said the turnaround was complete at the end of last year, and Vodafone was now embarking on growth efforts such as opening new retail stores, new content partnerships including video, and network offerings like voice-over-LTE (VoLTE).

"I think this is a different phase now. We are into growing the business, we are into growing the business commercially, and focusing on bringing more value to the market," he said.

Berroeta cited a growth in net promoter score of 16 points - though declining to detail a start or end point - as an indicator of the success of the turnaround efforts.

The telco’s part-owner Hutchison Telecommunications Australia has similarly expressed its confidence in the company’s progress despite continuing losses in subscriber numbers.

HTA is expected to announce second half 2014 results later this week.

“HTA remains confident VHA is on track to achieving its turnaround goals and [Hutchison] is committed to its investment in VHA and will continue to support its growth and profitability in the future,” HTA said at its half-year results last year.

Prepares to switch on VoLTE

The company also today said it had completed laboratory and field testing of voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE) 4G mobile broadband calling, and intends to launch the service later this year.

VoLTE offers high-definition voice for better quality audio during calls and faster call set-up times.

Vodafone chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen said call connection times were two to three times quicker with VoLTE, which runs over the telco's new internet protocol multimedia subsystem (IMS) core network.

VoLTE allows telcos to do away with the requirement to run separate voice and data networks, meaning 4G-capable phones will no longer need to fall back to 3G during voice calls.

Vodafone listed Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as VoLTE capable handsets, along with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 4, and the Huawei Ascend Y550.

Rival telcos Telstra and Optus are also both trialling VoLTE and similarly plan to launch the service this year.

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