Vodafone apologises with $500 million upgrade

Vodafone has apologised to its 3.5 million customers with coverage problems and has pledged to improve services with a $500 million upgrade.

The telco has been hit with customer complaints relating to dropped calls, delayed SMS and voicemails, inconsistent coverage and long waits on customer service calls.

Vodafone Hutchison Australia CEO, Nigel Dews, posted a personal apology on Vodafone's website. Mr Dews said: "I am truly sorry and apologise both personally and on behalf of everyone here at Vodafone.

"Our technical teams are working intensively to improve our network. We are installing new equipment, we are continuing to add more capacity in busy areas, and we are continuously monitoring all of our systems day and night for any issues."

A sharp increase in the use of data-hungry smartphones was partly to blame for the service issues, Vodafone said.

Thousands of customers registered for a class action suit against the broadband and mobile phone provider for the service problems.

Vodafone was also at the centre of a security breach recently, resulting in an investigation by the Privacy Commission.

Vodafone has promised to upgrade or build 2,500 sites around Australia to "dramatically improve" network capability.

The company had already promised upgrades but has now increased the investment to $1 billion, with $500 million earmarked for improvements this year.

Vodafone plans to replace 2G radio equipment at its mobile base stations with new 3G technology and has plans to upgrade to 4G in some areas.

Vodafone is not the first provider to announce a big network investment in response to customer complaints. US telco AT&T, which has been plagued by similar service issues, recently announced a US$19 billion network investment for its 95.5 million customers.

This puts At&T's spend per subsciber at $199, while Vodafone is investing $140 per subscriber.