Home Listed Tech Optus results flat, but mobile numbers up
Optus results flat, but mobile numbers up Featured

Optus revenues are up, but profit is down. But the good news is a substantial increase in mobile customer numbers.

Optus has announced its financial results for the three months ended 31 December 2014, and nine month results to the same date.

Operating revenue for the quarter was up 6.0% to $2.290 billion. For the nine months, revenue was up 1.7%. Mobile service revenue, which accounts for more than half the total revenue, rose 4.3% in the quarter over the same quarter last year, to $1.22 billion, “driven by robust mobile handset customer growth, continued take-up of My Plan Plus and a 12% increase in data revenues.”

Optus added 100,000 mobile customers in the quarter - an encouraging result after a slight drop a year ago. All three major carriers are now showing an increase, a reflection of the growing number of mobile services in Australia, where there are many more mobile connections than people.

“During the quarter, Optus added 435,000 4G mobile customers," said CEO Allen Lew. "This brings put 4G customer base to 3.18 million, up from 2.75 million a quarter ago. The release of 700 MHz spectrum on 1 January is a major milestone in our network expansion strategy, taking us one step closer to our goal to deliver our 4G Plus network to 90% of Australians by April 2015,” Lew said. Most of that increase in Optus 4G numbers were from its existing 3G users migrating – the Optus announcement was conspicuously silent on any growth in overall mobile customers.

The total number of mobile customers is now 9.391 million. This is a small drop from earlier numbers, (0.4% in a year) but Optus has told iTWire that is because customers that have taken up the company's recently announced data sharing plans are now counted as a single customer, whereas in the past all their services were counted separately. That is also one of the reasons average revenue per user (ARPU) increased 5% on the same quarter last year.

Lew says this “reflects the steady growth of our 4G base and higher data usage by both postpaid and prepaid customers.”

Fixed operating revenues were stable as higher mass-market revenue from NBN was offset by a decline in wholesale fixed revenues. Optus's net profit fell by 8.2% for the quarter (year on year) and 1.6% for the nine months. Optus showed a net profit of $602 million for the nine months to 31 December 2014, so it is much healthier than number three mobile company Vodafone.

Lew said the results showed the second consecutive quarter of revenue and mobile handset customer growth. “This reflects the strength of our core business. Our strategy to achieve long-term sustainable growth by continual customer service improvements and delivering innovative products and services such as data sharing is on track.”

He also spoke of the December agreement Optus had reached with NBN Co on the the migration of its HFC (hybrid fibre coaxial) cable network to the NBN. “Under the terms of the agreement, once Optus’s HFC subscribers have been migrated to the NBN, Optus will progressively transfer ownership of its coaxial cable and ancillary assets to NBN Co, while retaining ownership of strategic aerial fibre assets used to connect mobile base stations and business customers.”

Lew said strong take-up of the Optus mobile My Plan Plus and Prepaid Daily Plans continued to drive customer growth throughout the period. He said Optus added 100,000 mobile handset customers during the quarter, with growth in both the postpaid and prepaid segments.

“Optus continues to invest in its mobile network. Access to spectrum and the acceleration of our 4G upgrade program has expanded Optus’s national 4G footprint to 80% of Australians as at 31 January 2015."

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

 

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