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Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao (pictured) described the scale of network investment envisioned under the operator’s Project Spring initiative as “like building two-thirds of a new Europe”, speaking at a media roundtable following the company’s half-year results.
Colao spelt out how Vodafone will spend the £7 billion earmarked from the disposal of its Verizon Wireless stake, an increase from £6 billion originally proposed in September.
And the investment will take place over the next two years, rather than the three years previously announced. It is on top of £12 billion already set aside for investment over the period.
Colao gave an idea of how big the forthcoming programme will be: The number of 4G sites will increase from 12,000 today to 89,000.
Europe will be a major part of this programme, with £3 billion allocated under Project Spring, covering not just 4G but also new 2G, 3G, single RAN, small cell and Wi-Fi sites.
Colao said the programme was akin to building two-thirds of a new European network from scratch in terms of site numbers.
Markets in Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific (AMAP) will also benefit under Project Spring to the tune of £1.5 billion.
The company has also earmarked £1 billion for so-called unified communications, a term which covers investment in fixed networks, both fibre and DSL-based infrastructure in Europe (Italy, Portugal) and AMAP (India).
The rest of the expenditure will be targeted at expanding the country’s M2M platform to 75 markets and its IP-VPN in 11 new markets (£500 million). Finally, £1 billion is set aside for redesigning an additional 6,500 retail outlets.
“This major investment programme is aimed at defining what Vodafone will be in five or ten years,” said Colao.
The top five beneficiaries geographically of the investment programme (in no particular order) are Germany, the UK, India, Italy and South Africa.
Separately, Colao said he would “definitely consider as an option” an IPO in India once the tax issue is resolved with the authorities.
News from the company’s first half results was less upbeat, with the operator announcing that first half revenues, before changes of how joint ventures are accounted for, fell 3.2 per cent to £22 billion. Ebitda fell 4.1 per cent to £6.6 billion.