Lateness to 4G 'not a big issue': Vodafone

Vodafone says the fact it was beaten to the 4G race by Telstra and Optus in Australia isn't a big issue

Vodafone says the fact it was beaten to the 4G race by Telstra and Optus in Australia isn't a big issue, though the telco admits its current speed advantage is temporary.

Speaking at a tech media briefing in Sydney today outlining the company's business progress and plans, Vodafone Hutchison Australia CEO, Bill Morrow, said while it was late introducing a 4G mobile network in Australia compared to Telstra and Optus, the network's ability to offer 20MHz spectrum gives it an immediate advantage.

"We know we came late to the race on this [4G], we don't think that that necessarily is a big issue today, given that the feedback that we have, and given our 4G network expansion this year."

"We launched 4G at the beginning of this year, part of the reason why we see faster speeds is two reasons. One is the 20MHz spectrum that we offer, you're obviously going to get faster speeds from a physical perspective than you can with a 10MHz channel."

"The second reason is really because our network has not necessarily been that heavily loaded, and when you load it up the speed naturally comes down."

Vodafone officially switched on its 4G network to customers back in June. At the time, the company claimed the speeds were "among the fastest not only in the country, but in many parts of the world."

Despite Vodafone's 4G network not being heavily loaded, Morrow said the company is confident the fast data speeds will remain, albeit temporarily.

"We currently have over 800,000 4G devices on this network so we feel quite confident that with the physics and the kind of channel structure that we have, our network will remain in a competitive speed perspective, having a temporary advantage."

"I say temporary to be really fair and open to this. Neither of our competitors like the fact that we can go out and say we have the 20MHz, the faster 4G speeds, as this is an absolute race in the marketplace to say who has the fastest, best, mobile data type service."

Morrow admitted winning back customers, despite a fast 4G network, increased capacity and improved coverage, is the company's biggest challenge.

"We know we're not perfect, we do have hiccups from time to time. The objective that we have given our history is to earn back the trust of our customers."

Vodafone announced last week that it will now allow existing prepaid customers to access its 4G network, and will open up the network to new customers from mid-November.