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Vodafone Australia customer numbers slide by another 600,000

Vodafone Australia's customer base has slid to just over 5 million users, in another tough half year for the mobile company.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

In three months Vodafone has shed almost 600,000 customers from its mobile network, in what the company's CEO Bill Morrow said will be one of the last bad quarters for the company before a return to growth in 2014.

Vodafone Hutchison Australia's part owner Vodafone Group today announced that in the three months between July 1 and September 30 2013, the company's customer base (excluding mobile virtual network operator customers) declined 584,000 to 5.03 million.

It means that Vodafone's customer base has declined a total of 2.5 million customers since 2010.

The company reported a service revenue decline of 8.1 percent for the six months to the end of September 2013, which was an improvement on last year's decline of 14.8 percent. Vodafone also saw a 0.6 percent growth in EBITDA for the half, largely on the back of cost cutting measures the telco has put in place over the last 18 months.

ZDNet understands that Vodafone conducted an audit of its inactive SIMs across not only Vodafone but the recently integrated Three Mobile and Crazy John's brands, and this led to around 400,000 of the 584,000 SIMs being deactivated.

If the SIM audit is the final for the company, it is expected that this quarter will be one of the last real negative quarters for the company in the three years since the infamous network and customer servcies issues dating back to 2010.

The company has spent over AU$1 billion overhauling its 3G network and has switched on its 4G network across five Australian capital cities. Vodafone is also currently undertaking a massive marketing campaign to promote the brand back in the market, and last week announced that for customers signing up or renewing contracts between now and January, it would double the data available to those customers per month for the life of the contract.

Morrow last week called on the new Coalition government to open up access to NBN fibre backhaul for mobile operators, and to be open to sharing tower infrastructure with the three major mobile carriers.

Vodafone Australia's parent company Vodafone Group today reported a decline in service revenue across the group of 4.9 percent, reported a group revenue for the half of £22 billion, and an operating profit of £5.7 billion.

Global CEO Vittorio Colao said that the pending US$130 billion from the sale of Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless will be a reward for shareholders for long term investment in the company.

Morrow has said he is seeking a share of the funds from the sale of the US business to upgrade Vodafone's legacy IT systems.

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