We're faster than Telstra, Optus, but we won't brag: Vodafone

We're faster than Telstra, Optus, but we won't brag: Vodafone

Summary: Vodafone believes its 3G and 4G networks outpace those of its rivals, but given how badly it has performed in the past, its CEO doesn't believe it's right to brag about it to its customers.


At a media briefing in North Sydney on Tuesday, Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow said that the company's Australian 3G speeds are above Optus' and on par with Telstra's, while its 4G speeds are above both of its competitors.

The data used to back Morrow's claims comes from Android devices that used the Ookla Speedtest. There were no details given as to the sample size, or actual speed figures made available, although Morrow said these could be purchased from Ookla.

Specific to the 4G side, Morrow said that the launch of its network, albeit later than Optus' and Telstra's, was still slightly different due to its use of a contiguous 20MHz channel structure. Morrow said that this gives its network slightly faster speeds than its competitors.

"Neither of our competitors like the fact that we can go out and say we have a 20MHz channel structure and deliver a faster 4G speed."

Eventually, Vodafone's competitors will catch up, however. Morrow said that Telstra's recent purchase in the 700MHz auction would allow it to aggregate enough spectrum to achieve an equivalent 20MHz channel, and, likewise, Optus' would soon be able to do the same.

He also admitted that although there are about 800,000 devices on its 4G network, this does not represent a heavy load. As such, with less congestion, Morrow said that this contributed to higher speeds on the company's network, although as the number of devices increases, top speeds will trend slightly downward.

Both its channel structure and low levels of congestion have led Morrow to believe that Vodafone naturally has a "temporary advantage" in the space, but he also considered that even when this advantage has run its course, it will remain competitive in terms of speed.

Although it has the data to back up its claims, Morrow said that given the company's past failures, it has no right to brag about being better than its competitors. As such, even though it is now launching its largest-ever outdoor advertising campaign, Morrow said it has to do so with an air of humility, knowing it failed customers previously.

"We don't have the credit, the respect enough, to say we are back, we are good, we are this. We have to just ask them to reconsider us. You tell us what you think," he said.

"No cockiness, no arrogance ... we don't have any right to be in that space whatsoever."

The more humble approach to its network capability could also be in response to what it knows about its churn rate: It expects to lose more customers this year. Despite the improvements made to the network and its advertising campaign, Morrow doesn't expect the situation to improve or at least turn towards a form of neutrality until next year.

"You'll see some big numbers," he said, referring to the number of customers he expects to lose in the remainder of this year, but providing a caveat on why that might be.

"It's going to be bigger than the normal run-rate is, because we've cleaned up the accounting. We've had a large number of non-tolling customers."

In the past, Morrow said that Vodafone had sometimes offered customers extra SIM cards with the hope that they would use them and become a paying customer. Other customers, he said, bought a SIM card for emergency purposes, keeping them in their car's glove box or a drawer at home, and it didn't make sense to consider them a paying customer.

"Let's remove those as customers, because they're not bona-fide customers, so we took all of that in the second half of this year."

The figure is also expected to be inflated from the migration of 3 customers to Vodafone. In some cases, 3 customers had their accounts held open because it was a second or third mobile service, Morrow said, and rather than migrating, they were happier to just close the account.

Topics: Telcos, 4G, Optus, Telstra, Australia

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • Lies! - but then again that wouldn't surprise me.

    The number of times this company rang me to tell me how much their network was improving when it wasn't is ridiculous. Lies and fluffy numbers are synonymous with Vodafone. When offered to have their service and phone for free when asking to close my account with Vodafone, i still refused it due to the frustration and lies. If it were in any other industry other than telco I suspect they would have been closed down. I will not soon forget the whole Vodafail experience. It is beyond laughable that they would consider themselves anywhere near as good as Telstra. Where did they do the test, inside the Vodafone building with a super signal booster / repeater? Give us a break! Is the CEO using his real name? or is Bill short for Rajesh or something else? If it smells like a dishonest duck, and quacks like a dishonest duck...
    Anthony Konstantinidis
  • Arrogance? Oh no!

    It's funny to listen to Mr Morrow bragging about his network, even though he even denies the fact that he is bragging.

    You can't install one 4G tower in each city and claim that is a better network.

    The other weird thing here is that the merging of two networks (Voda and 3) would normally generate more customers. But he is making excuses as to why it is expected to lose customers. Something must be very wrong over there.
  • Not this time Morrow

    Any cursory review of the past would show you that VHA Vodafone / 3 regularly cleaned out their non-tolling customers as all Telcos do. Clearly Morrow is feeling the pressure of the poor performance getting worse under his watch. Customers are still leaving , employees in VHA say it is not getting better at all despite what Morrow may say. I think Morrow must believe that if he keeps saying it we might believe it but the facts don't lie. Still losing huge numbers, now he has found another excuse - hey Bill guess why customers don't use a service? Because its not up to scratch and thats why they end up as non-tolling!! Simple really. And the continuing arrogance in claiming the fastest speeds on 3G & 4G - oh please, what nonsense is this , conveniently leaves out the lack of coverage - next time Michael Lee please ask him what is the average download speed ACROSS the whole network? Watch the ducking and weaving.
  • I amazed by the Voda-BS!

    Live in the Blue Mountains NSW. No 4G from ANYONE and no plans for the next 2 years, at least, for 4G by anyone. Up until 3 months ago from where I do most of my work, Vodafone was the ONLY way to get mobile reception and it was able to deliver low reception 3G on occasion but mostly 2G. If the wind blows hard enough, 3G is lost until it stops.

    However, 3 months ago, Telstra put a new tower in closer to me and now Telstra users get constant and good reception 3G at its highest rate. I do not need to travel that far for work but last December I signed on for 2 years, again, with Vodafone so December 2014 I change to Telstra if the plan is good enough. I have everything else with Telstra and honestly, RELIABLE reception is better than none at all. Go west past Nyngan if using Vodafone and you get nothing at all until you arrive within reception range at BROKEN HILL!! Meantime, Telstra users at Cobar and Wilcannia are fine.

    Dont know about you reading this but Vodafone's lustre is lost for me. It was once good. Now, if I go outside reception range and a call is made to me, when I am reliably back in range, it takes over an hour before I know a call is waiting and ringing in to the Vodafone Messagebank costs a HELL of a lot. I have complained a lot about this lag in knowing I have a waiting message, to Vodafone and they listen sympathetically and they escalate it to a higher level and they do NOTHING about it.

    Nothing at Vodafone apart from the $80 unlimited plan (not including 1800 and 13 numbers and ISD or calling MessageBank) I use is worth it anymore. Next year, goodbye Big Red Vodafone who, BTW, changed my Galaxy Note 2 so that I cannot change the dock icons at all. Not impressed with that!
    • Galaxy Note 2

      That's not vodafone's fault, it's a software update. In the new version of TouchWiz you can't change those icons down the bottom.

      The solution is to install a different launcher - Go launcher, Apex, ADW and Nova are the most popular. Of those i'd reccomend Nova or ADW. Spring for the Pro version ($4) if you can as they are worth it. Then you will be able to get unbelievable customization and change anything you want.
  • Everything is faster when nobody is using it!

    The reason why Vodafone is faster than Telstra or Optus is because:
    1) vodafone don't allow mobile broadband modems or tablets onto 4G
    2) vodafone has a much smaller customer base

    If you really want to put your claims to the test Mr Murrow, allow mobile broadband onto 4G. You already charge 4G prices on your mobile broadband plans.
  • slower than Telstra

    I've been with Voda for a week now and when in 4g zone getting speeds of Telstra's h+ and when in Voda h+ zone I'm getting speeds equivalent to Telstra's 3g. not sure how Voda can say they're the fastest when every test I do is slower than Telstra.
  • Well, well, the Telstra and Optus shills got here fast didn't they...

    ...switched to the Galaxy Note 3 with Vodaphone three weeks ago in a notoriously bad area close to the Gosford cbd. Telstra mobile would drop pout every time I walked into my kitchen and downloading any app was a horror story. With Vodaphone I am getting twice the data, vastly improved app dload speeds, not a single dropout in three weeks and cheaper plan.

    Read the obviously biased and ignorant rants above if you like, but remember that Voda have spent billions on network upgrades last few years while T and O have... well, bugger all actually.
    • Actually they have outspent Vodafone

      Not sure what you are referring to but Telstra and Optus have both outspent Vodafone significantly and in fact Telstra spend more on general maintenance and upgrades annually than Vodafone have ever spent. And looking at todays TIO figures Vodafone account for 44% of complaints with the complaints actually increasing in the first half of this year!! 44% of complaints when they have a market share that is now less than 20% and still falling. The reason you get the "rants" as you call them is because the service is poor for many.
  • Just joined Voda

    Yea I just signed up with vodafone, I would call them vodafixed now. I got 40mbps on 4G and 15mbps on 3G with iPhone 5C. don't know anything about who has spent more money on their network and i dont care. Also don't care if they are faster than telstra by a fraction. What i do care about is price and reasonable connectivity. I am paying $40 less with Voda than i was with telstra and my speeds are the same. I am hoping that their billing is a lot better than telstra, who seem to have constant issues getting their bills correct. Vodafixed is my opinion.
  • I've been on 3 then vodafone a long long time.

    I have a optus pre paid card as there's no voda service at home and only have it at work or going out some where the optus service is faster I can expect speeds of 800Kbps and avg of 600Kbps.

    voda will be way lower I haven't bothered with a speed test with my android phones in a while but last time was aug and it had gotten faster but only on 1 tower which can at times go very fast faster than optus but alas most time no.

    The new red plans on voda are quite worth the money as they have upped the data amount pretty much the only important thing on a mobile phone plan these days, phone calls and txt are pretty much unlimited across the board.