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Optus’ shuttered Virgin Mobile wins another telco customer service award

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Mobile phone service provider customer satisfaction, August 2018 vs August 2017


(Image: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia)

Optus’ shuttered mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile has won another customer service award, taking out the Roy Morgan Mobile Phone Service Provider Monthly Customer Satisfaction Award with a score of 88 percent for August.

This marked a 12 percent rise from its score this time last year, Roy Morgan added, with Aldi Mobile coming in second at an 84 percent customer satisfaction rating for August, up by 14 percent from last year.

“Both Virgin Mobile and Aldi Mobile have achieved multiple victories in the Mobile Phone Service Provider category in 2018, and are the leading contenders to take out the 2018 Annual Award with four months to go,” Roy Morgan said, adding that Virgin Mobile had won the award back in 2012 while Aldi Mobile took it out in 2015.

Virgin Mobile’s score shows that despite the phasing out of its brand in Australia, it is “still supporting its customer base to a high standard”, Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said.

“The estimated three quarters of a million Virgin Mobile customers are set to transition to Optus contracts over the next two years, although the uncertainty facing existing Virgin’s customers provides a huge potential market for rival telcos such as Telstra and Vodafone to tap into as they search for new customers,” Levine added.

“Despite the consolidation in the industry with the closure of Virgin, there is still a significant market for resellers to compete with the established networks of Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone as Australia heads towards 5G networks in 2019.”

Vodafone Australia was up by 3 percent for a rating of 78 percent; Optus was down by 1 percent for a score of 77 percent; and Telstra came in last, down by 3 percent from last year to a total customer satisfaction score of 74 percent for August 2018.

“Amaysim and iiNet are yet to win a monthly award in 2018, and were out of the top five providers in August,” Levine said.

With Virgin Mobile using the Optus network and Aldi Mobile the Telstra network, Roy Morgan also averaged out the “underlying mobile networks”, giving Optus an overall customer satisfaction score of 78 percent, while Vodafone Australia scored 77 percent and Telstra 75 percent.

In July, Virgin Mobile similarly received top ranking in an Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) report on telco provider customer service.

According to ACCAN’s report, barring Virgin Mobile, Vodafone provided the best service, followed by TPG/iiNet, Amaysim, Dodo/iPrimus, Skymesh, Telstra, Optus, Activ8me, and in last place Telstra-owned Belong.

Optus had in May confirmed that it would be phasing out its Virgin Mobile Australia subsidiary over the next two years, with retail stores closing in June.

Virgin Mobile stopped upgrading and selling new post-paid mobile and broadband services as of June 15, although existing customers can continue using their service as normal, with all current contracts being honoured.

“This decision comes as a result of a strategic review of the Optus and Virgin Mobile brands which was recently conducted ahead of the approaching expiry of the Virgin Mobile brand licence in 2020,” the phase-out FAQs explain.

Virgin Mobile has been continually losing market share, according to Kantar, with the market research company in November reporting the telco had lost 0.4 percentage points down to holding just 4 percent of the total Australian mobile market.

Optus has been wholesaling its 4G network to its Virgin Mobile subsidiary since 2014.

Related Coverage

Optus to shutter Virgin Mobile stores by June 30

The Virgin Mobile Australia brand will continue to operate over the next couple of years, but it will stop upgrading and selling new services on June 15, 2018.

Optus confirms Virgin Mobile closure

Virgin Mobile will be shuttered over the next two years, Optus has confirmed.

Telco that Optus shuttered provides best customer service: ACCAN

If you want the best service from an operational telco, head to Vodafone. Otherwise, pine for Virgin Mobile.

5G technology: A business leader’s guide (Tech Pro Research)

It’s still early days for 5G services, but as they’re being trialed and deployed, they’re on track to have a far-reaching impact for both consumers and businesses.

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Waymo recreated fatal crashes putting its software at the wheel – Here’s how it did

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Waymo is tackling the safety issue of autonomous vehicles head-on, using simulations to replay fatal crashes but replacing the human driver involved with the Alphabet company’s software, to show what the Waymo Driver would’ve done differently. The research looked at every fatal accident recorded in Chandler, Arizona – where the Waymo One driverless car-hailing service currently operates – between 2008 and 2017.

“We excluded crashes that didn’t match situations that the Waymo Driver would face in the real world today, such as when crashes occurred outside of our current operating domain,” Trent Victor, Director of Safety Research and Best Practices at Waymo, explains. “Then, the data was used to carefully reconstruct each crash using best-practice methods. Once we had the reconstructions, we simulated how the Waymo Driver might have performed in each scenario.”

In total, there were 72 different simulations that the system needed to handle. In those where there were two cars involved, Waymo modeled each in two ways. First, where the Waymo Driver was in control of the “initiator” vehicle, which initiated the crash, and then again with it as the “responder” vehicle, which responds to the initiator’s actions. That took the total to 91 simulations.

The Waymo Driver avoided every crash as initiator – a total of 52 simulations – Waymo says. That was mainly down to the computer following the rules of the road that human drivers in the actual crashes did not, such as avoiding speeding, maintaining a gap with other traffic, and not running through red lights or failing to yield appropriately.

On the flip side, where the Waymo Driver was the responder, it managed to avoid 82-percent of the crashes in the simulations. According to Waymo’s Victor, “in the vast majority of events, it did so with smooth, consistent driving – without the need to brake hard or make an urgent evasive response.”

In a further 10-percent of the simulations, the Waymo Driver was able to take action to mitigate the crash’s severity. There, the driver was 1.3-15x less likely to sustain a serious injury, Waymo calculates.

Finally, in the remaining 8-percent of crashes simulated, the Waymo Driver was unable to mitigate or avoid the impact. They were all situations where a human-operated vehicle struck the back of a Waymo vehicle that was stationary or moving at a constant speed, this “giving the Waymo Driver little opportunity to respond,” Victor explains.

That is equally important, Waymo argues, because when they finally launch in any significant number, autonomous vehicles are going to have to coexist with human drivers on the road for some time to come. Those human drivers can’t be counted on to follow the same rules as stringently as Waymo’s software demands.

Waymo has released a paper, detailing its findings. Part of the challenge for assessing autonomous vehicles, it argues, is that high-severity collisions are thankfully relatively rare in the real world. As such, “evaluating effectiveness in these scenarios through public road driving alone is not practical given the gradual nature of ADS deployments.”

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2022 Genesis G70 Launch Edition previews sport sedan refresh

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Genesis has revealed the new 2022 G70 Launch Edition, the first of the refreshed versions of its compact sports sedan to land in the US, looking handsome with the automaker’s striking new design language. Announced last October, Genesis’ smallest sedan will debut initially in the form of the limited-production 2022 G70 Launch Edition, with only 500 expected to be offered.

Where the old G70 had a squared-off fascia, this updated version is a lot softer in its angles. The bottom edge of the oversized shield-shaped front grille now comes to a point in the lower fascia, rather than being flat, while that lower grille section is more muscular and contoured.

It’s the headlamps, though, which are the biggest departure. They get Genesis’ new signature quad-LED element, with dual horizontal daytime running lamp lines on each side. It’s something we’ve seen the automaker put to good use on its larger sedans, and on SUVs like the new GV80.

Genesis says the new G70 is lower and wider at the front end, while the profile of the sedan is sharper, too. At the rear, the trunk lid has been smoothed out, with a more distinctive integrated spoiler. The taillamp clusters, meanwhile, have a more angular appearance, echoing the quad LED light signature at the front. Altogether it looks tidier and more focused than the outgoing car.

Inside, meanwhile, the changes are more subtle. The dashboard shape in general has been carried over, with dedicated HVAC control knobs, a physical transmission shifter, and a multifunction steering wheel. However there’s now a new 10.25-inch HD display atop the dashboard, replacing the old 8-inch version.

That gets the graphics from Genesis’ more recent models, a huge improvement compared to the Hyundai-donated software UI in the last-gen G70. There’s both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the driver gets an 8-inch HD digital gauge cluster flanked by analog dials.

As for what’s under the hood, don’t expect a departure from the existing engines. That includes the optional 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, with 365 horsepower. The entry engine is a carry-over of the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, with 252 horsepower. An 8-speed automatic is likely to be standard; the six-speed manual gearbox Genesis once offered won’t be making an appearance.

Genesis will keep the options simple for the Launch Edition: it’ll only offer the sedan in Verbier White or Melbourne Grey matte paint. 19-inch black wheels will be standard, as will a red leather interior. Although you’ll be able to pick RWD or AWD, the G70 Launch Edition will only be offered with the more potent V6 engine, Car & Driver reports.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed, though the current G70 starts at just north of $37k. Reservations for the Launch Edition are open now, with the first cars set to arrive in the US come the spring.

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GMC Hummer EV SUV reveal dated: Watch the electric pickup go sideways on ice

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GMC will reveal its second Hummer EV variant in just a few weeks time, with the SUV version of the all-electric super truck promising an alternative body-style to the original pickup. The GMC Hummer EV SUV will be unveiled on April 3, the automaker confirmed today, though this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the new version.

Back in July 2020, in fact, GMC teased what we could expect from the SUV body. As you might expect, it’s the same bold lines and chunky styling from the front back to roughly the C-pillars.

However unlike the pickup’s roughly 5 foot long bed, the SUV will have an enclosed cargo area. That will allow for a spare wheel to be mounted on the tailgate. We’re still expecting to see removable roof panels, allowing most of the top of the electric truck to be opened up, though final cargo capacity will have to wait until the official reveal.

As for what’s underneath the sheet metal, there we’re unlikely to see GMC straying too far from the architecture of the Hummer EV pickup. Based on GM’s Ultium platform for electric vehicles, that includes up to three motors and 1,000 horsepower in total, depending on trim. Torque vectoring – where power is individually controlled in its delivery to each rear wheel – and a “CrabWalk” mode that allows the trunk to track diagonally at low speeds in off-road or tight parking lot conditions are also supported.

0-60 mph should come in around 3 seconds for the most potent Hummer EV, GMC has said, while range will be up to around 350 miles on a charge. 800V DC fast charging with support for up to 350 kW should mean 100 miles of range added in just 10 minutes.

While GMC is launching the pickup version with the limited-availability 2022 Hummer EV Edition 1 first, it has more affordable versions planned for 2022 and beyond. That’s likely to be the same strategy the automaker takes with the electric SUV, with premium pricing and a heavily constrained supply to begin with. Reservations for the SUV will open on April 3, GMC has said.

As for progress on the electric pickup, GMC says it has been undertaking winter testing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, making ample use of the snow and ice to see how the all-wheel drive holds up. That also includes testing of the electronic stability control and traction control.

Production of the 2022 Hummer EV pickup is expected to begin in the fall, GMC says, with initial deliveries before the end of the year.

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