Optus needs to boost customer numbers: SingTel

Despite acting CEO Paul O'Sullivan yesterday talking down Optus' customer numbers, parent company SingTel has told investors it is critical for Optus to regain market share.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Optus needs to boost its mobile and fixed customer base, parent company SingTel has told investors, despite acting Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan talking down customer numbers yesterday.

The number two mobile telco was best placed to pick up a number of ex-Vodafone customers that have left over the past few years, but instead most of those customers have flocked to Telstra, and in the 12 months between March 2013 and March 2014, Optus shed 160,000 mobile subscribers.

To combat the trend, and to win over new customers, Optus yesterday announced new data sharing plans, and SIM-only plans with no contract lock-in with generous data limits, but O'Sullivan told journalists that it wasn't about winning over new customers, but long-term profitability and brand loyalty.

"Let's get away from reporting customer numbers," he said.

But SingTel has customer numbers in mind, telling investors that customer numbers were important.

"In Australia, we have the added challenge of needing to regain trading momentum and market share in mobile and fixed," SingTel told investors.

Slides from the presentation note that between June 2012 and March 2014, Vodafone's market share had slid from 22.6 percent to 17.3 percent, the Optus market share slid from 31.5 percent to 30.5 percent, while Telstra's market share increased from 45.9 percent to 52.2 percent.

It was much the same in fixed broadband, where Optus market share went from 17.9 percent to 16.2 percent, while Telstra's went from 45.9 percent to 46.8 percent.

The company said that in Singapore and Australia there was a need to monetise data, and some of the plans in place include pre-paid 4G, data sharing, tiered data plans, and Wi-Fi usage. Optus yesterday also talked down speculation about launching Wi-Fi networks in Australia, but O'Sullivan highlighted the company's strong spectrum holdings from its acquisition of fixed wireless company Vividwireless.

Through access to 1,000 tower sites from its joint venture with Vodafone, and through the upgrades or new towers in 2,500 other locations, Optus also revealed to investors it plans to have its 4G network covering 90 percent of metropolitan locations by March 2015.

Optus said it also plans to double its marketing effort in Australia by 2015.

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