Vodafone New Zealand, which bought phone company TelstraClear for $840 million last year, lost a net 7,000 mobile customers in the first three months of the year, its ninth straight quarterly decline.
Auckland-based Vodafone had 2.307 million mobile customers as at March 31 from 2.314 million three months earlier, according to its London Stock Exchange-listed parent company's annual result (see page 37 for Vodafone NZ results).
That's the fewest New Zealand customers Vodafone has had on its books since the third quarter of 2007/08, though it doesn't include customers acquired from the TelstraClear purchase, who already run on the Vodafone network under a repackaged service.
Vodafone's percentage of pre-paid customers edged up to 66.7 percent from 66.6 percent at the end of the December quarter.
The parent Vodafone group said its Australian and New Zealand businesses were the only regions not to report revenue growth in the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific segment, which accounts for about 30 percent of the company's service revenue.
The carrier has had to contend with increasing competition since Two Degrees Mobile entered the market in 2009, grabbing a 21 percent share in three years and eating into Vodafone and Telecom's dominance.
Vodafone New Zealand boosted annual profit 16 percent to $175 million in the 12 months ended March 31 from $151.5 million a year ago, even as revenue fell 4.3 percent to $1.62 billion, according to the last financial statements filed to the Companies Office.
That was better than what Vodafone foreshadowed a year earlier when it said sales would fall $124 million and comprehensive income by $55 million due to the Commerce Commission imposing a reduction in mobile termination rates, the fees carriers charge each other for ending a call on a rival network.