Stimulus and iPhone fuel Optus growth

Optus today attributed growth in customer numbers and profits over the first three months of 2009 to iPhone sales and the Federal Government's two stimulus packages.

Optus today attributed growth in customer numbers and profits over the first three months of 2009 to iPhone sales and the Federal Government's two stimulus packages.

(Credit: Apple)

The SingTel subsidiary took on 156,000 new mobile and wireless broadband customers in the quarter to 31 March 2009, largely driven by a boost in post-paid accounts for its iPhone 3G and "Timeless" plans, it reported today.

Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan also said the Federal Government's two fiscal stimulus packages contributed to the telco's results for the quarter.

"The economic stimulus provided by the government has definitely made it felt in terms of customer buying patterns," said O'Sullivan at a media briefing today. "Our observations were that there was strong traffic in the malls and in the stores in both periods after the economic stimulus."

Optus' 3G subscribers increased to 2.58 million, up 11 per cent on the equivalent quarter last year, which included a base of 486,000 wireless broadband subscribers. Optus noted that it carried the Android powered HTC Dream, but did not attribute mobile growth to the platform.

The iPhone was also attributed to a 7.9 per cent increase in Optus' cost of selling, which jumped $38 million from December 2008 to $290 million.

Optus' mobile business made up the majority of its revenue for the quarter, and was the only category of business to show strong growth, rising on a year on year comparison by $181 million to $1.3 billion. Its total revenue for the quarter was $2.1 billion, of which mobile accounted for 60 per cent.

Optus Business' fixed line business took a small hit on last year's figure, down from $316 million to $313 million. Consumer and small businesses fixed line revenue also fell $25 million.

Corporate wins highlighted today included the Franchise Entertainment Group and Transpacific Industries Group. Optus did not include its recent $500 million five-year deal signed with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group announced earlier this month.

Optus had 142 fewer employees than at 31 December 2008 with a total workforce at the end of March of 10,497. Revenue per employee stood at $200,000, up from $183,000 for the same period last year. Despite the cuts, staff costs grew 1.7 per cent.

The telco also noted within its financial statements two ongoing legal battles. Optus reported it had received judgements in its favour over the cases, including a content supply battle with the Movie Network. Both cases were open to appeal, Optus reported.