Telstra CEO David Thodey told retail shareholders in Sydney yesterday that the company is looking to expand its voice-over-IP (VoIP) offering beyond small businesses to consumers soon, and will even look at offering VoIP services on mobile.
In May 2011, Telstra embarked on a massive quality of service (QoS) upgrade to 1600 exchanges across the country ahead of the launch a Digital Business package to business customers, including VoIP services.
At the time, Thodey said that Telstra wasn't ready to offer a VoIP product to customers, like its rivals iiNet and Internode, because VoIP wasn't to the level of "quality or reliability" that the company would be satisfied with.
Today, however, Thodey admitted that he himself uses VoIP "sometimes," and that Telstra will soon expand the offering beyond just business customers.
"We will be taking it out to a broader consumer base. We've just got to pick the right time for that, because it is just balancing the market trends and then just how we're responding to it," he said. "There will also be a VoIP service on the mobile phone at some point as well."
Thodey said that Telstra has to ensure that it gets the pricing right.
"Now the charging model is what we're working on at the moment, and we'll come out with that in the next six months."
While much of today's retail shareholders meeting focused on customer service and individual shareholder issues, chief financial officer Andy Penn was also questioned on whether Telstra would ever buy back shares. Penn said that for now, the company is choosing to invest half a billion dollars in its long-term evolution (LTE) 4G network.
"At the moment, our first decision has been to invest half a billion in extending our LTE network," he said. "Building on that when we can afford to do that is the right opportunity."
But Penn admitted that a buy back is possible.
"The short answer is that it is definitely an option available to us. Over the longer term, what is most important to our shareholders is paying a fully franked dividend of at least 28 cents."