UPDATE: Vodafone Australia grows customer base

Vodafone Australia grows customer base

UPDATE-- Vodafone Australia has reported growth in raw customer numbers in its latest quarterly figures, released last night on the London stock exchange, but the news is not all good.

The number of Vodafone mobile customers rose from 2,627,000 in September 2003 to 2,676,000 in December 2003. The percentage of pre-paid customers rose from 53 to 55 percent over that period, and the percentage of active customers fell from 92 to 90 percent over that time.

According to the figures, Vodafone Australia's active customer base fell from 2,416,840 in September to 2,408,400 in December. Grahame Maher, Vodafone Australia's chief executive officer, told ZDNet Australia the fall was as a result of two things. The first was customers who received a prepaid phone for Xmas in 2002 and were now using other plans, and the second was visitors to Australia who purchased a pre-paid mobile phone during the World Cup.

There was more bad news in the results for the carrier in average revenue per user (ARPU).

The ARPU annualised 12 month rolling fell from AU$587 to AU$579 over the quarter. Although ARPU for contract customers rose from AU$879 to AU$897, but ARPU for pre-paid users - the majority of Vodafone's customers - fell from AU$286 to AU$280. Maher said the fall in ARPU was a result of the increase in inactive users, and customers who were active were very active.

Maher emphasised the growth in customer numbers.

"Once again we've seen a steady increase in our customer numbers this quarter, but most importantly this is profitable growth and not just numbers for numbers' sake," said Maher in a statement. "We had a great Christmas with Vodafone red SIM and Vodafone live! exceeding our expectations both in customer numbers and recharge values."

"We're committed to changing the Australian mobile market by giving customers great value, choice and total control. Over the next few months we will be continuing to explore ways to rewrite the rules and give customers exactly what they want," said Maher.