Telstra rides new-era services to record profit

Australia's chief telecommunications provider, Telstra, has announced a 20 percent revenue increase for 2003/2004, bringing its net profits to AU$4.118 billion.

Australia's chief telecommunications provider, Telstra, has announced a 20 percent revenue increase for 2003/2004, bringing its net profits to AU$4.118 billion.

The company reported in its full year financial summary, released today, its net profit had exceeded the previous financial year by around AU$689 million, with Telstra's domestic sales revenue also up by 2.4 percent to AU$19.165 billion.

Telstra's total mobile services revenue (including handset sales) increased by 5.4 percent to AU$3.807 billion in 2003/2004, with the revenue (excluding handset sales) up by 7.1 percent to AU$3.455 billion.

Telstra attributes the rise to increased subscriber numbers and greater usage of SMS and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) services.

Operational mobile services grew by 15.8 percent to 7.0604 million, with prepaid mobile phone services up 35.6 percent to 3.1 million in 2004. Also Telstra reported a huge increase of the number of mobile text messages sent in 2004, rising by 34.7 percent to 1.903 billion for the year.

Other mobile data usage grew by 34.3 percent, the telco reported, due to an increase in GPRS products including Telstra wireless access protocols (WAP) and Blackberrys.

Total Internet and IP solutions revenue was up by 23.6 percent to 1.01 billion in 2003/2004 period, with Telstra reporting a subscriber growth of 76.7 percent in both ADSL and cable connections.

Telstra said that retail broadband subscriber numbers had hit 424,000, an increase of 77 percent from the previous financial year, with the overall number of subscribers reaching 803,000, up 122 percent in 2004.

Telstra's wholesale broadband revenues also showed dramatic growth, rising by 189.8 percent to AU$142 million, an AU$93 million improvement from 2003.

Total public switched telephone network (PSTN) revenues were up marginally, according to Telstra, with a 0.9 percent rise in 2004, with all the access lines - including residential, business and domestic wholesale -- earning AU$10.37 million in total.

Telstra said the increases have been offset by a "decline in the number of basic access lines", which it attributes to "competition and migration to other products such as ISDN, broadband and mobiles".

Local calls were down by 4.1 percent, totalling 9.397 billion in 2004, causing an AU$63 million decline to Telstra's total local call revenue.

Internationally, Telstra reported a "mixed performance", with revenues from the Hong Kong mobile giant CSL (acquired by Telstra mid-2002) declining due to "unfavourable fluctuations in currency and aggressive competitive pricing". However TelstraClear New Zealand delivered a profit for the first time, Telstra said, growing by 6 percent to NZ$652 million (around AU$598 million).

Telstra also experienced a 4.7 percent decline in payphone revenues, which follows an announcement last month that the company intends to construct a new wireless network plan by attaching wireless local area network (WLAN) antennas to its metropolitan payphones.

Telstra's chief executive officer, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, forecasted continued growth for the next financial year, saying that the company's underlying revenue growth will be "positive" and "on a trajectory consistent with the company's goal of achieving industry growth levels during 2006".