Vodafone continues to expand its fixed broadband business, signing up a net 42,000 customers in the three months to June.
Launched in 2015, the mobile network’s fixed-line broadband business now serves nearly 800,000 households. It has added more than 100,000 of those accounts this year, despite a spotty reputation for customer service and several recent service meltdowns.
Vodafone was the most complained-about ISP in Ofcom’s two latest quarterly ranking of telecom providers’ performance, covering the second and third quarters of 2019. (More recent rankings have been delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.) The ISP attracted 26 complaints per 100,000 customers last summer, as home broadband speeds crashed two weekends in a row.
Vodafone’s mobile service also attracted the highest volume of complaints last summer, and the latest figures suggest mobile customers have been more likely to ditch the company. Vodafone lost 462,000 mobile customers in the first quarter of the 2021 financial year, taking its total number of mobile accounts to 17,580,000.
The company saw service revenue decline by 1.3% (1.9% in the UK) in April to June, which it partly attributed to lower takings from roaming customers and visitors such as tourists and migrant workers buying prepaid SIMs. Roaming and visitor revenue was down 70% across the quarter, due to coronavirus travel restrictions. Business revenue also fell due to delays in corporate projects as a result of the pandemic.
However, Nick Read, chief executive of the Vodafone Group, touted the company’s resilience during the coronavirus upheaval.
“Our trading performance in the first quarter demonstrates the relative resilience of our operating model and focused delivery of our strategic priorities. Whilst we have seen the direct impact on our revenue from travel restrictions and business project delays, we have also seen increased usage in voice and data, alongside record NGN broadband customer net additions in Europe,” he said.
He also hailed Vodafone’s commitment to its customers during the pandemic.
“The role Vodafone plays in society has never been more important, particularly as the markets in which we operate continue to face challenging conditions. We have executed well in delivering on our social contract to provide fast and reliable connectivity for our customers. We will continue to work collaboratively with governments and policy makers to create the right environment for investment in essential services and ensure our customers receive the best overall experience,” Read said.
To assist during the pandemic, Vodafone automatically upgraded its most vulnerable customers to free unlimited mobile data for 30 days at the start of the lockdown and also extended the offer to half a million other customers on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the offer was less generous than the six months of free unlimited data EE offered to NHS workers.
Last week, Vodafone announced plans to run its entire European mobile network, including 61,700 base stations, on renewable energy from next July.
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