Vodafone has lost more than one million mobile customers over the past year, resulting in its user base dropping below 5 million for the first time in four years.
Vodafone Australia’s joint parent company Vodafone Group released the yearly financial results for the local business today, which revealed a consistent churn away from the telco’s services over the past 12 months.
The telco shed 44,000 customers in the three months to March 31 2014 alone - nearly doubling the decline in the three months prior - which brought its mobile customer base down to 4.96 million.
For the full year, Vodafone Australia reported a loss of just over 1 million customers.
But despite a 9 percent fall in service revenue, the telco’s earnings grew by almost 15 percent, which Vodafone Group attributed to “restructuring and stronger cost discipline”.
It put the service revenue decline down to the customer losses, which it said was a result of service issues in prior years, related to poor reception and service which ultimately ended in an attempted class action against the company.
The disappointing results come despite forecasts by former Vodafone Australia CEO Bill Morrow of expected customer growth in 2014.
Morrow implemented a three-year turnaround strategy which the telco is now most of the way through. Vodafone Group said the strategy remains on track and is “yielding improved levels of network performance, net promoter score and customer base management”.
But Vodafone's new local CEO Inaki Berroeta recently declined to commit to Morrow's forecast of a 2014 return to subscriber growth, admitting that the telco had not yet shaken negative perceptions around its quality of service.
The latest figures put Vodafone at a disadvantage to its local rivals. Optus reported a small drop in customers (160,000) over the last year, while Telstra added another 739,000 mobile users to its base in its last half year.
Optus now counts around 9.6 million mobile users to Telstra’s 15.8 million.