Optus customer numbers bounce back to March 2014 levels

Australia's second-largest mobile company Optus has reported Q4 operating revenue up 11.9 percent with the net addition of 42,000 new mobile customers.

Optus has grown its mobile customer base by 42,000 in the first three months of 2015, with strong consumer mobile growth offset by a decline in mobile broadband.

In results released on Thursday, Optus reported Q4 consumer operating revenues of AU$1.8 billion, up 11.9 percent year on year. The full-year revenue was AU$7.2 billion, up 4.6 percent.

Mobile revenue for the quarter was up 15.9 percent year on year, to AU$1.4 billion, and 6.8 percent for the full year, to AU$5.4 billion.

In the first three months of 2015, Optus added a total of 59,000 post-paid handset customers, with prepaid remaining flat for the quarter.

Including enterprise mobile customers, Optus added a total of 64,000, but this was offset by a drop of 22,000 mobile broadband customers, bringing Optus' total customer base up 42,000 for the quarter, to 9.433 million. Year on year, Optus has now returned to the number of customers it had in March 2014.

The company saw 340,000 customers convert to 4G devices in the quarter, meaning 3.49 million of Optus' total mobile customer base is on 4G. The network now reaches out to 86 percent of the Australian population, with 3,383 towers covered and 2,107 sites using 4G in the 700MHz spectrum band.

Average revenue per user grew 4 percent in the quarter.

Optus' fixed business grew operating revenues by 3 percent in the quarter, to AU$286 million, on the back of growth in its fixed customer base through bundling, including the Netflix subscription offer. Optus grew its fixed base by 20,000 to 1.02 million, putting some distance between Optus and its nearest rival, iiNet.

If TPG's takeover offer for iiNet goes ahead, however, the combined iiNet-TPG entity would overtake Optus for the number two spot in fixed broadband.

Optus CEO Allen Lew said the results showed that the company's strategy for growth is working.

"We will continue to lead the market with innovative, value-driven offers, an expanding 4G network footprint, and exceptional customer experience," he said in a statement.

"Looking ahead, Optus will continue to differentiate its brand with new home and mobile products that lead the market in value and flexibility, and which give our customers the freedom to use data in ways that suit their lifestyle."

The company will have a results call with investors and journalists later on Thursday.

Overall, Optus parent company Singtel posted net profits of S$964 million for the quarter, up 4.5 percent, and S$3.8 billion for the year, up 3.5 percent.