blog To our mind, Vodafone Australia’s new chief executive Bill Morrow has been doing a fairly decent job since he took the company’s reins early last year. Sure, the customer churn isn’t really slowing down and the company’s still losing moneyhand over fist, but we believe Morrow has broadly stopped the rot inside Vodafone and has put the company’s focus squarely back where it belongs: On its network and customer service. Sure, Morrow’s had the odd rumbling about what he sees as a flawed telco regulatory regime, but that’s pretty much par for the course for a non-Telstra telco CEO in Australia.
Apparently, however, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy doesn’t agree. At an event in Canberra this week, according to the Financial Review (we recommend you click here for the full article), Conroy said of the big V:
“Despite advances in mobile phones, they don’t want to provide services in regional Australia …We haven’t seen another telco CEO act like this since Sol Trujillo.”
If you want read the opinion piece which Conroy’s responding too, you can download it here in full (Word Document). We received it yesterday from Vodafone, but didn’t publish it, as … really, it was quite boring, with a bunch of platitudes about the future of the technology industry capped off by a call to investigate the Universal Service Obligation funding which Telstra receives to guarantee services to the bush. It’s the standard regulatory guff.
To be blatantly honest, this whole situation is one we’ve seen before repeatedly in Australian telecommunications over the past few years. Telco feeling hard done by and losing customers to rivals? Why not start complaining to the Government that the regulatory regime needs a fix? Back in 2005-2006 it was then-Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo. Now it’s Vodafone. Pretty much all of the time it’s Optus. But you know what Australians respect more than a whinger? A whinger who also takes a positive attitude towards their problems and gets things done regardless.
That’s why, as a nation, we continue to revere executives such as Internode founder Simon Hackett and iiNet founder Michael Malone. Because despite the legitimate regulatory issues in the telecommunications sector, which both have noted from time to time, the pair also went out there and improved basic services anyway. It’ll be interesting to see whether Morrow can live up to this test over the next year or so: Just a reminder, Bill: Vodafone hasn’t yet launched its 4G network. Telstra has more than 1.5 million customers already on 4G. Despite not receiving the USO, Optus has at least managed to launch its own 4G infrastructure. A little complaining to the Government is fine, but perhaps it’s also time to kickstart that Vodafone network rollout machine into gear? Maybe before the end of 2013?