Vodafone Australia chief executive Inaki Berroeta. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian.
Vodafone Australia chief executive Inaki Berroeta. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian.

Vodafone Australia's new chief executive says its big data plans and cheap international roaming will enable it to carve a niche from Optus and Telstra as the company tries to regain the trust of Australian mobile users.

In his first visit to Perth since taking the role in March, the former chief executive of the company's Romanian division Inaki Berroeta said Vodafone had moved into a new phase and was slowly rebuilding its brand through heavy investment in its network, including a $1 billion investment this year.

Mr Berroeta, a 20-year veteran of the industry, said Vodafone's offer of three gigabytes of data at the same price as about half of what was offered by its competitors would attract customers and help it gain a market advantage.

And in a comment that is sure to stoke the fire in the already-heated battle between the big three telcos, Mr Berroeta said the data plans offered by Telstra and Optus were "a little bit old".

"Data is what people want now, and we're getting good feedback from our customers about it," he said.

"Eighty per cent of Australians have a smartphone . . . and the usage factor is really important.

"They want new ways to be connected and multimedia consumption has increased dramatically, and this is what we're offering."

The Spanish national has taken on one of the most challenging roles in the telecommunications industry following on from former chief executive Bill Morrow, who instigated a three-year turnaround plan before leaving two years into the role to become NBN Co chief.

The company has made headway in stopping the rot following a network disaster in 2010, however figures released last month that show lost 44,000 customers in the December quarter, and more than a million over the year, highlight the long road ahead.

Mr Berroeta said he was well aware of Vodafone's issues in Australia and accepted there was pressure to turn it around.

And although he would not commit to a timeframe on when the company would turn the corner and experience positive customer growth, he said he was getting a "clearer idea" as he spent more time in the role.

"For me it's about building that trust back, and rebuilding the brand with our customers," he said.

"There's a good base to go on and I'm very confident that things will level out soon, otherwise I wouldn't have come here."

Mr Berroeta also revealed the company was looking to expand its retail presence in WA by up to 50 per cent, including the potential for stores in regional centres such as Geraldton, Albany and Busselton - country areas that have traditionally been seen as a weakness in its coverage.

Vodafone has 31 stores in WA.

For me it's about building that trust back and rebuilding the brand."

  • Inaki Berroeta * Vodafone boss

The West Australian

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