Optus climbs to 10.2 million mobile customers

Optus has announced a quarterly net profit of AU$154 million, down 3.5 percent, on operating revenue of AU$2.2 billion, up 5.7 percent after nearing half a million NBN customers and 10.2 million mobile customers.

Optus has revealed adding 32,000 National Broadband Network (NBN) customers in the quarter to June 30, with the retailer now at 488,000 NBN customers -- 211,000 more than this time last year.

Despite this, Optus' consumer fixed revenues remained stagnant due to NBN's cease-sale on hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), with total mass market fixed operating revenue of AU$340 million as voice fell 14.4 percent to AU$76 million, broadband fell 15.7 percent to AU$95 million, and pay TV rose by 6.7 percent to AU$29 million.

Operating revenue across the entire consumer segment was up 5.4 percent to AU$1.8 billion thanks to mobile revenue increasing by 7.9 percent to AU$1.3 billion. Mobile customers numbered 10.2 million at the end of the period -- 5.3 million in post-paid, 3.7 million in prepaid, and 1.1 million in mobile broadband -- after adding 407,000 during the past year.

Prepaid average revenue per user (ARPU) fell from AU$20 to AU$19 per month over the year, while post-paid ARPU dropped from AU$44 to AU$42 and mobile broadband rose from AU$21 to AU$22.

Optus did not disclose its mobile market share in Australia, but said its 4G network now covers 96.9 percent of the population, with 6,895 of its mobile sites upgraded to 4G and 5,800 of these upgraded to 700MHz spectrum.

"This quarter, we have leveraged our investments in networks, technology, and content to create sustainable competitive advantages and positive customer growth. Football continues to be a key pillar of our content strategy and we remain focused on being the home of elite international football in Australia," Optus CEO Allen Lew said.

"With our leadership in network and technology capability, our plans are well advanced for the implementation of 5G in early 2019."

Also in the consumer business, wholesale fixed remained stable at AU$140 million for the quarter, with data and IP up 4.2 percent to AU$58 million, voice down 10 percent to AU$22 million, and satellite down 1.7 percent to AU$60 million.

Across the enterprise business, Optus announced operating revenue up 6.6 percent to AU$386 million, with IT and managed services up 17.6 percent to AU$173 million; mobile up 11 percent to AU$72 million; data and IP down 1.5 percent to AU$78 million; and voice down 10.8 percent to AU$64 million.

Optus attributed its increase in IT and managed services to "continued growth in cybersecurity, cloud, and unified communications revenues".

"During the quarter, Optus Business continued to grow its suite of ICT products and services with long-term customers such as the Australian Tax Office and the Department of Home Affairs," the telco added.

"It also continued to acquire new customer mobile fleets, including NSW Uniting Care and the Queensland Ambulance Service."

Across the entire Australian business, Optus brought in net profit AU$154 million, down 3.5 percent, on operating revenue of AU$2.2 billion, up 5.7 percent. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were at AU$656 million, up 1.6 percent.

During the quarter, Optus said it would be cutting 400 roles as part of its strategy to become a digital services company that provides premium content and "game-changing experiences".

Last week, it announced securing the broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League along with the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup for the next three years.

This followed Optus revealing in May that it had extended its exclusive Australian broadcast rights for the English Premier League (EPL) for another three years out to the 2021-22 season, at the same time opening it up to non-telco customers and launching a new app.

Earlier this week, Optus also announced a partnership with Curtin University that will see the two work together on artificial intelligence (AI).

Parent company Singtel on Wednesday announced a quarterly net profit of SG$832 million, down 6.6 percent, on operating revenue down 0.5 percent to SG$4.1 billion.

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