AAP Finance

Vodafone switching on 5G mobile services

By AAP Newswire

Vodafone Hutchison Australia plans to switch on its first 5G mobile sites within weeks as it strives to compete with Telstra and Optus.

Customers with 5G phones will have faster download speeds - a benefit currently enjoyed by those using the fledgling Telstra and Optus networks.

The initial 5G network rollout, which will continue throughout the year, will be underpinned by the planned merger between the company and internet service provider TPG to create Australia's third major telecom services provider.

The news came as Hutchison Telecommunications Australia - which owns a 50 per cent stake in Vodafone Hutchison Australia, reported a $154.8 million full year loss for 2019.

The loss is in stark contrast to a $4.5 million profit it posted a year ago.

Revenue for 2019 fell sharply to $5.7 million, down from $10.6 million the year prior. This wan mainly on the back of lower interest income for Hutchison.

Vodafone Hutchison also reported fewer mobile customers, with its prepaid base the hardest hit. It had 2 million customers for 2019, down eight per cent from 2.2 million in 2018.

Chief Executive Inaki Berroeta said prepaid market had been extremely competitive and wondered if low prices could continue.

"How sustainable these propositions are moving to 5G, that is a question," he said.

In postpaid, it had 3.4 million customers - down from 3.5 million people the year prior.

Customers spending also declined, with average user payments at $33.35 per month, compared to $35.05 in 2018.

While Mr Berroeta was keen to spruik 5G services, he also said Vodafone would continue improving capacity for 4G customers.

The merger with TPG would help speed improvements to 4G capacity, he said.

Mr Berroeta does not expect a significant pickup in 5G services usage until the end of next year.

The carrier's future lies with TPG, with the two businesses this month winning their merger case in the Federal Court to merge.

The combined company could be able to better provide voice and data services and take on Telstra and Optus.

"We now have many customers of broadband products that we will be looking to become mobile customers, and vice versa," Mr Berroeta said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had argued the merger should not proceed as TPG was likely to provide mobile services anyway and provide a fourth competitor.

The Commission is considering whether it will appeal.

Shares in Hutchison Telecommunications Australia closed 6.5 per cent lower at 14.5 cents.