Vodafone claims big 4G gains

Vodafone NZ CEO Russell Stanners (Chris Keall)

Vodafone is this afternoon bragging of big gains with its 4G mobile network.

Vodafone began its 4G roll out in Februrary last year, charging a $10 premium for access to the faster mobile network up until the point Telecom launched 4G in November.

The carrier only offered 4G to contract customers, but dropped this restriction when Telecom entered the 4G market.

Today, Vodafone says:

  • 177% increase in 4G customers over the last six months
  • Significant growth in 4G prepay base: over 30,000 since plans launched (8 weeks)
  • Vodafone 4G population coverage to exceed 2.5 million by end of April
  • 4G available at 48 locations by April
  • Total data use across the Vodafone network grew by 70% between July 2013 and January 2014; 4G data use quadrupled
  • 60% of Vodafone’s device portfolio is 4G-capable
  • Vodafone New Zealand has attracted more than 300,000 Kiwis onto its 4G-enabled plans since launching the country’s first superfast mobile broadband service – one year ago today. 

Telecom responds
NBR asked Telecom for its 4G numbers. Spokesman Richard Llewellyn responded, "We don’t break down our reported mobile customer numbers into 3G versus 4G, so for that reason we are not in a position to provide a comparison with Vodafone. We also note that the Vodafone information would be difficult to make any meaningful analysis of given its limited and selective nature.

"We are very pleased with the take up of 4G by our customers, since we launched in November last year. The vast majority of those customers with 4G enabled devices have switched to a 4G capable sim for use on our network.

"From our viewpoint the most relevant number when it comes to mobile is the net growth in mobile customers. As we reported at our half year results just a week ago, we achieved a net addition of 200,000 mobile customers in the 2013 calendar year. With the addition of Spotify for Telecom customers just yesterday we are confident this growth will continue."

 2degrees' network has no 4G capability. It says it will begin a 4G upgrade at an un-named time later this year.

The overall market
On its February 21 first-half earnings call, Telecom - which made a net gain of 92,000 mobile subscribers in the first half, said it made a full-year gain of 200,000 for a total of around 1.92 million. Vodafone recently said it had 2.29 million total mobile customer connections. Privately-held 2degrees has never reported in detail on customer numbers, and has not provided a big-picture update since August 2012, when it claimed 1 million customers.

Telecom's mobile subscribers topped 2 million in the first half of 2012 before the shutdown of its old CMDA network and a "reset" of the numbers saw total mobile customer mobile connections fall to 1.72 million in the second half of that year. It has been on a recovery track since.

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