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​Vodafone backs up network confidence with 30-day satisfaction guarantee

Vodafone is confident its investment in its 4G network is 'world-class' and is offering customers a Network Happiness Guarantee.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Vodafone has launched its Network Happiness Guarantee as a vote of confidence the investments made to its network will keep customers satisfied, a measurable difference to the results the company has presented in the past.

Under the Network Happiness Guarantee, Vodafone customers who sign up to a plan but are not satisfied in the first 30 days will be able to cancel their contract, and only pay for what they have used.

Vodafone chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen said the company's heavy investment in its 4G network is "world-class", and is so confident that the company is offering its Network Happiness Guarantee.

"We have spent billions of dollars over recent years to build a high performing 4G network throughout Australia for our customers. Now available in more places, our 4G network is faster and more resilient than ever before," he said.

Conversely, between 2012 and 2014 Vodafone was losing customers in the tens of thousands due to nationwide mobile outages. At one point in 2013, the telco giant shed 600,000 customers from its mobile network, and it wasn't until February 2014 the company announced it recorded its smallest customer drop in two years at the time of 22,000 customers. However, by July 2014, Vodafone reported customer subscriber numbers dropped again by 137,000 during the six months of the 2013 financial year.

However, since the company began ramping up its investment in 4G long-term evolution (LTE), which was launched in June 2013, the results have started to turn around. In May 2015 the company saw revenue return to growth after several years.

Last December, the company continued its bid in extending its mobile coverage to areas outside of its metropolitan footprint. This saw Vodafone refarm 850MHz spectrum band to extend capacity in ACT; and refarm an additional 5MHz band of its 850MHz spectrum on the coast of NSW, between Nelson Bay and Kiama, as well as the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains, in order to improve 4G coverage and speeds. Vodafone also switched on 850MHz 4G in 235 sites across Queensland in November.

Towards the end of last year, the company also switched on its first three mobile blackspot cell towers as part of the Australian government's mobile blackspot program that brought mobile coverage to White Rock Wind Farm near Glen Innes, in the New England region of New South Wales.

Vodafone plans to build or upgrade 70 base stations in total across Australia as part of the mobile blackspot program, which secured an initial AU$185 million in funding.

The company now claims its 4G footprint now reaches 23 million people in Australia.

Hanssen said Vodafone will continue to take advantage of its spectrum assets to ensure its 4G network remains "world-class".
"Our customers' mobile data usage continues to explode, largely driven by video traffic. To ensure we stay ahead of customer demand, we have doubled our low-band 4G capacity in metropolitan areas, and we will continue to repurpose our spectrum assets when needed," he said.

Vodafone further extended the reach of its 4G network after it signed a AU$1 billion deal with TPG.

"One of the biggest benefits for all existing TPG mobile customers is access to 4G on Vodafone's network, meaning they will be able to experience substantially faster data speeds," TPG CEO David Teoh said at the time about the deal.

In addition, Vodafone announced it has begun rolling out its Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) capability with compatible devices, such as Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge +, and Note 5, and the latest iPhones operating the latest iOS 9.3. The telco first flagged its VoLTE offering in October, saying at the time it would begin rolling out the service to customers before Christmas.

Vodafone's Network Happiness Guarantee also comes at a time after Telstra customers were subjected to three outages over the past six weeks. The first outage on February 22 took down voice and data across mobile for several hours, and was caused by "embarrassing human error". It resulted in the telco gifting all customers with free unlimited data on February 14 as compensation.

The second outage was on March 17 that involved an hours-long national mobile data and voice outage, and the latest on March 22 was a smaller voice outage.

Telstra's chief operating officer Kate McKenzie said on Monday the company is seeking the advice of both internal and external engineering experts, including from Cisco, Ericsson, and Juniper, as part of an ongoing review into its three mobile outages.

She said there are plans to increase capacity of its signalling channels, add extra traffic management protection, improve capacity for its home location register, and heighten its "awareness plan".

"Our initial review has confirmed the recent incidents were not related, although two of the disruptions were due to delays in processing the registration of mobile devices ... we are absolutely committed to getting to the bottom of these incidents, and are taking all of the necessary steps to minimise the risk of it happening again," she said.

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