Optus job cuts pass 900

Optus job cuts pass 900

Summary: Optus has cut an extra 184 jobs, totalling more than what it had originally planned under the company's restructure.

TOPICS: Telcos, Optus

SingTel's Australian subsidiary Optus has shed 184 additional roles outside of its original plan of 750.

The company revealed in SingTel's Q2 results today that it had shed 746 roles in the year between September 30, 2011 and September 30, 2012, which the company had forecast earlier this year as part of a major restructure of the Australian business. Between March and June, Optus shed 475 staff, to a headcount of 9,178, and between June and September, the company reduced its headcount by a further 109. In October, the company made an additional cut of 350 roles. In total, the company has now cut 934 roles.

Optus' chief consumer officer Kevin Russell told ZDNet today that in the course of assessing the company, it had found "more opportunities" for efficiencies in the staffing numbers.

"We have found more opportunities than expected, in terms of efficiencies. The last part of that is just being clearer on our focus as a business, and clearer in the things we are going to execute well in the next two or three years," he said.

ZDNet understands that the original 750 announcement did not include the cuts in Optus' ICT business subsidiary Alphawest, nor did it include jobs that were cut as part of an alignment with the SingTel Digital Life division.

In total, Optus has now cut close to 10 percent of its workforce as part of its restructure. This percentage is roughly the same amount that Vodafone is seeking to cut from its business as part of its own restructure.

In results released as part of parent-company SingTel's results today, Optus reported an underlying net profit decline of 8.7 percent for the half-year ending September 30, blaming reduced mobile termination rates and stiff competition in the mobile market.

Net profit was reported as AU$325 million, down from AU$356 million from the same period in 2011. The company blamed a lower operating revenue of AU$98 million for the second quarter on the reduction in mobile termination rates and reduced equipment sales.

Russell said that Optus' decision to cease subsidising prepaid handsets had seen the company lose 100,000 prepaid customers in the last quarter, but this was offset by an increase in post-paid customers by 132,000, bringing Optus' total mobile customer base to 9.5 million, up from 9.2 million as of September 30, 2011.

Removing the subsidy for prepaid handsets was better for profitability, Russell said, as it removed the risk of subsidised handsets being switched over to other mobile networks. He said that while some of the prepaid customers did migrate to post-paid plans, it wasn't the only reason for the rise in post-paid customers.

"There has been a degree of prepaid to post-paid migration, but that's not what is driving the post-paid numbers. The post-paid numbers are consistent with our competitive position in the marketplace,"

While Optus is keen to promote the rollout of its 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network, Russell today refused to disclose how many 4G devices the company had sold since launching in July. Russell said that the company will roll out 4G in Adelaide and Canberra in the first quarter of 2013.

The company also owes much of its recent customer adds to the purchase of Vividwireless, which accounted for 60,000 new customers.

Optus recently informed customers of Vividwireless company Unwired that it would cease operating the Unwired network from February 28, 2013. It has offered those customers a range of 3G and 4G plans as alternatives.

In fixed, Optus added 6,000 additional fixed broadband customers and 4,000 hybrid-fibre coaxial customers in the three months between June and September 2012, tipping the company just over the 1 million mark for total fixed-line customers.

Topics: Telcos, Optus


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Optus paid $230 million for Unwired , how much will it write off?

    Some suggested that the 230 million was to cannibalise Unwired's spectrum but the spectrum alone is not worth that. Others suggested that there was value in the 60,000 customers they acquired.

    Sorry I just do not see the logic. The Unwired 2.3 GHz spectrum is not where the demand is right now. It does have the advantage of having lower Acma licensing costs, but then that is simply a reflection the supply and demand: higher up the frequency there is more space hence supply, the downside is that it does not penetrate buildings and blackspots as well, and this lowers demand. Higher frequencies do have some advantages like having a much smaller footprint on a radio tower and being easier to beamform and therefore less degradation when things are congested.

    The big demand right now happens to be with pads and smart phones where users have every expectation that they should be able to watch HD video while riding the train home. The experience is going to be so much better in the lower frequencies due to the penetration. The higher frequencies however are ideal for businesses who have a fixed location and possibly an outside antenna that is positioned pointing to the radio tower. Many of these business customers will also have an ADSL connection. They switch between one or the other and value the backup. These customers were attracted to Unwired by the shaped plans, they could schedule very big downloads for late at night. Sure the backhaul on Unwired was not that great: across the ditch then the Bell South route to the USA, lost packets and sometimes so congested that you would have to go away and come back, but the download manager took care of that.

    Optus have been testing an TD-LTE service for the 2.3 GHz spectrum and have achieved 250 megabits per second download speeds. It sounds good, but few pads and phones support TD-LTE and quite frankly until Optus lets us know where and when, it's not worth thinking about.

    I wonder how many of the Unwired customers will switch to an Optus plan. I won't be firstly because I already have a mobile phone and a mobile hotspot and secondly because I will not do business with an operator that would shutter a service without providing an alternative or a timetable for the future.
    gwilo graham