What have we done well?
- The network and IT upgrades are on schedule.
- Strong growth in the machine-to-machine market; we have strengthened our position and expanded our portfolio.
- Three successful innovations for peoples' health made possible by the Mobiles for Good Challenge.
What can we do better?
- Following a major fault in April 2012 we have worked hard on the repairs. Unfortunately these did not progress as quickly as expected. The insights we gained during this disruption have led to a plan for improvement that is now being implemented.
- Our energy efficiency fell over the past year (-0.05%), due, amongst other things, to an increase in energy consumption (3%) as a result of the antenna network, which is being prepared for 4G services.
- CO2 emissions increased by 15%. The main reasons for this are the acquisitions of BelCompany and Telespectrum and the construction of the 4G network. In order to achieve our CO2 targets, we have amended the CO2 reduction programme.
- We need to make the social relevance of machine-to-machine technology clearer.
- The response of our top 30 suppliers to our request to perform a self-assessment with the help of a questionnaire was very low. We are considering other possible ways to gain an insight into the supply chain.
- We worked together with the municipality of Eindhoven and MVO Nederland on the identification of risks related to social conditions in the supply of network connectivity and SIM cards. By providing these services, Vodafone falls into Regime 3: risk. A plan of approach has been submitted to the municipality of Eindhoven.
Rob Shuter about the outage in April 2012
CEO Rob Shuter of Vodafone Netherlands gives an update on the outage via a video message
What do our stakeholders say?
Vodafone uses 100% green energy. In previous years this was achieved via hydropower from Norway, but on 1 April 2013 we switched over to Dutch wind energy. This was done in consultation with Greenpeace.
"It is good to see Vodafone turning words into deeds and opting for green energy from wind parks. This proves there are companies that are committed to ensuring an increasingly sustainable energy supply in the Netherlands."
- Sanne van Keulen, Greenpeace spokesperson
Local opposition to antennas
A dilemma for telecom companies is that everyone wants the best coverage, both inside and outside, but people oppose having antennas close to where they live. External factors mean, however, that there is not always good coverage in people's homes or in the office. As a solution to this dilemma Vodafone has introduced SignaalPlus onto the market, an internal antenna that improves coverage indoors.
Vodafone disagreed with the structure of the auction
Vodafone did not agree with the structure of the auction. A third of the available 800 MHz spectrum was reserved for newcomers. In our opinion, this was not justified from a legal or economic point of view. The effect of reserving this portion of the spectrum was an artificial shortage in the 800 MHz band, resulting in huge differences in the prices paid for the reserved and unreserved spectrum. These substantial differences in the prices paid lead to an uneven playing field. Vodafone is therefore pushing for a quick evaluation. The lessons that can be drawn from this evaluation must be taken into account in the structure of any subsequent auction. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is already preparing for the redistribution of the current UMTS licences, which expire at the end of 2016. Vodafone raised its objections to the structure of the auction when the Ministry of Economic Affairs published the auction regulations (beginning of 2012) and other associated regulations. These objections were rejected by the ministry. Vodafone has appealed to the courts against this decision. The interests involved in the last auction were considerable, as is evident from the huge amounts that were paid, totalling EUR 3.8 billion. Vodafone paid EUR 1.4 billion. What was difficult about the auction was that Vodafone was put on the spot: we had to take part because our most important licences, those for the 900 and 1800 MHz bands, were due to expire at the end of February 2013. We are seeking a court judgement stating that the structure of the auction was unlawful and careless and resulted in an uneven playing field.
Research into radiation from mobile telephones
The damaging effects of mobile telephones on health have been a subject of discussion for many years. Some scientific studies have demonstrated an impact on health, while others refute that there is any effect. Vodafone informs its customers about developments in this area via its website. We are also the first and only telecom company in the Netherlands to offer its services to COSMOS, a large-scale international study in which 100,000 people are participating (Vodafone is not profiting in any way from its participation). In the Netherlands this study is being conducted by the IRAS institute of the University of Utrecht.
To maintain scientific validity, it is important that several telecom companies get involved in the future. Vodafone has now taken the initiative to consult with the other telecom companies as a sector.
Our dilemma is whether we should or could be doing more at this stage. More information from Vodafone could lead (perhaps unnecessarily) to an increase in concern and to the association of the Vodafone brand with this issue, while the World Health Organization and the Netherlands Health Council have concluded that with the knowledge we have today there is no reason to assume there are any effects on health. Although it is possible that there are effects, more scientific research is needed on the subject.
Energy savings with increasing data consumption
Vodafone's energy consumption is rising due to the increase in data consumption. Forecasts by Vodafone show that energy consumption will continue to rise. The challenge is to achieve our targets in the area of energy efficiency despite this increase in energy consumption. Upgrading our network should help to improve our energy efficiency, but we will also have to keep looking for other ways of saving energy.