10 June 2009 (merger; as VHA)
|Headquarters||177 Pacific Hwy, North Sydney, NSW, 2060|
|Iñaki Berroeta (CEO)|
Canning Fok (Chairman)
|Products||Prepaid and postpaid mobile phones, fixed-line and wireless broadband|
Number of employees
|2,500 (2018) |
Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Limited, doing business as Vodafone Australia or Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), is a mobile telecommunications company and Internet service provider that operates the Vodafone brand in Australia. The result of a 2009 merger between Vodafone Australia and Hutchison 3G Australia, it is Australia's third-largest mobile carrier with approximately 5.8 million subscribers, A$3.5 billion in annual revenue and a 19 per cent market share making it Australia's third largest mobile telecommunications provider behind Telstra and Optus. It also offers fixed-line and wire broadband services via the National Broadband Network.
The joint venture entity is owned by Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Limited ("HTAL"; a listed company (ASX: HTA) and a subsidiary of CK Hutchison Holdings) and by Vodafone Group plc on a 50-50 basis.
In August 2018, VHA and TPG Telecom announced their intention to merge. Initially rejected by the ACCC, the plan was given permission to proceed via a February 2020 Federal Court of Australia ruling. Effective 29 June 2020, Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Limited was renamed TPG Telecom Limited (ABN 76 096 304 620).
Products and services
Mobile voice and data is Vodafone's core business. Its mobile network operates on the following frequencies:
Vodafone's 3G UMTS uses 900 MHz for 3G services outside of capital cities, to equal or surpass their older GSM coverage, and has also expanded this network to a limited extent into metro areas.
Vodafone's 4G 1800 MHz rollout commenced with 20 MHz of bandwidth in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Newcastle and Wollongong on 12 June 2013.
Vodafone has also rolled out 4G 850 MHz by refarming 5 MHz of their 3G spectrum in capital cities covering 95% of Australia's metro population in 2014, and has enabled carrier aggregation on both their 4G bands. In April 2017, Vodafone was a successful bidder for 4G spectrum on the 700 MHz band at auction, but appears not to have commenced services on this band as of August 2018.
Vodafone's 5G NR network is coming to areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth from mid-2020 with more a plan of expansion to more than 650 sites progressively going live from mid-2020
The Vodafone 2G and 3G (2100/900 MHz) networks originally operated as a single network, separate to the Three network. Vodafone first entered the Australian market in 1992 when it was awarded the third mobile network operator license in Australia in December that year (after Telstra and Optus). Vodafone Australia then launched its 2G GSM mobile network in October 1993.
During the 2009 merger, VHA had made no comment on their intention to combine the Three and Vodafone networks, or offer roaming between them. As of late-2009 however, roaming onto the Vodafone's 2G network had been enabled for Three customers in areas that had limited 3G coverage (e.g. blackspots). In late 2010, VHA announced plans to consolidate the Three and Vodafone networks, in an attempt to better compete with Telstra's Next G network. The plan included the expansion of UMTS 900/2100 MHz coverage in 900 metropolitan sites and 500 outer metropolitan sites across Australia, an end to the 3GIS network (3's UMTS 2100 MHz network, which it has a 50% stake with, the other 50% being held by Telstra), as well as the roll out of 1400 UMTS-850 base stations - 850 MHz being the same band in which the Next G network operates. At least $550 million was spent on this project.
Three operated a 2100 MHz 3G network in a 50/50 partnership with Telstra, which covered approximately 56% of Australia's population across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, the Gold Coast, Canberra, Geelong, Frankston and Wollongong. In areas not covered by the joint 3G network, customers were able to roam on Telstra's Next G 850 MHz 3G network, and Telstra's 900 MHz and 1800 MHz 2G networks. This agreement allowed Three to offer coverage to up to 96% of the population. This network, and with it the final links to the Three network from an infrastructure perspective, was shut down on 31 August 2012 following the termination of the network sharing agreement.
Vodafone offers broadband plans and bundles via the National Broadband Network, marketed as Vodafone nbn. These services were launched in December 2017 as the first fixed-line product offered by Vodafone in Australia.
Ownership structure and history
Three-Vodafone merger (June 2009)
VHA was created on 10 June 2009, after shareholders and the ACCC approved a merger between Hutchison Telecommunications Australia (owner of the Three network) and Vodafone Australia. At the time of the merger, Former VHA chief executive Nigel Dews said "the first priority is around people and getting the organisation and the organisational structure sorted out", and that head office functions would see the greatest redundancies. During the merger, Vodafone Hutchison Australia announced it would buy out its Vodafone branded stores, previously run by the retail management groups Digicall, First Mobile, Inside Mobile and GSM. The new retail structure lifted VHA's current headcount by 1,400 to 5,100 staff, and added over 170 stores. Three-branded stores were already owned by VHA.
Before the merger with Three:
- Vodafone Group plc owned Vodafone Australia Limited (which runs the Vodafone network)
- Hutchison Whampoa Limited owned 52% of Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Limited, which owned Hutchison 3G Australia Pty Limited ("H3GA") (which runs the "3" network)
In the merger, Hutchison 3G Australia was renamed Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd, and 50% was sold to Vodafone Group.
The ownership structure of the current entity, Vodafone Hutchison Australia, is:
- Vodafone Group owns 50% of Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd
- Hutchison Telecommunications Australia owns 50% of Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd
- Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd owns 100% of Vodafone Australia Limited
The merger created an entity of nearly 7 million subscribers, A$4 billion in annual revenue and a 27 per cent market share making it Australia's third largest mobile telecommunications provider behind Telstra and Optus. The discrepancy between these numbers and the present figures can be attributed at least partially to a series of major failures of the VHA mobile network that occurred between 2009 and 2012, dubbed 'Vodafail' (a term used widely in the media and by users on social media networks to describe the outages.) More than two million customers left VHA over the period from 2010 to 2013.
VHA began phasing out the Three brand in mid-2011. At the time registration of new subscribers to Three ended and would instead become Vodafone customers. The Three network was shut down completely on 30 August 2013.
Ongoing VHA-TPG merger proposal (August 2018)
The planned ownership structure will be:
- Vodafone Group and Hutchison Telecommunications Australia will own a combined 50.1% of TPG Telecom Limited
In December 2018, the merger plans were called into question by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which expressed 'concerns' regarding a potential reduction in competition if the merger were to proceed. In particular, the regulator signalled its concern that the merger would essentially remove Vodafone from the fixed-line broadband market and remove TPG (an 'aggressive' low-cost competitor) from the mobile market. This ultimately led the ACCC to block the proposal in May 2019.
The ACCC's decision was overturned by the Federal Court of Australia in February 2020, giving TPG and VHA permission to merge as planned. The Court ruled that TPG no longer held ambitions to enter the Australian mobile market with its own infrastructure, with the merger therefore not likely to reduce competition levels in the market.
Marketing and sponsorship
Vodafone have been involved in a variety of sports sponsorships in Australia. From 1998 to 2004 Vodafone were the shirt sponsors for the Australian national rugby union team, the Wallabies. In 2010, Vodafone replaced Three as the shirt sponsor of the Australian national cricket team.
Vodafone was the naming rights sponsor of Triple Eight Race Engineering in V8 Supercars from 2007 to 2012. During that period, TeamVodafone won four championships and four Bathurst 1000 races. In 2012, Vodafone terminated their cricket and motorsport sponsorships with money reinvested into improving their mobile network and customer service.
In 2015, Vodafone & The Garvan Institute of Medical Research launched Dreamlab. An app that allows users to help find a cure for cancer by pooling their smartphones' computing power. The app is free & available is available on both App Store and Google Play.
In 2017, Vodafone made a return to sports sponsorships in Australia. In rugby union, Vodafone became the title sponsor of Super Rugby within Australia. In motorsport, Vodafone sponsored a BMW M6 GT3 in the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour and reunited with Triple Eight Race Engineering for the 2019 event as the primary sponsor of the team's Mercedes-AMG GT3. Within Supercars, it became title sponsor of the safety car and the Gold Coast 600.
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