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iPhone 5 counts for one in three Telstra 4G devices

Despite having 20 different 4G devices in the market, Telstra has reported that over 500,000 of the 1.5 million 4G devices it has sold were the iPhone 5.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Apple's iPhone 5 counts for roughly half of all 4G mobile phones and one third of all 4G devices that Telstra has sold, CEO David Thodey has revealed.

In announcing that Telstra has passed 1 million 4G devices sold, with 1.5 million sold as of the end of December last year, Thodey told journalists in a conference call this afternoon that over 500,000 of the devices were Apple's iPhone 5, which launched in September. In the three months since launch, the device has outsold the other 11 4G handsets in the market, and eight 4G mobile broadband devices.

But Thodey isn't concerned that Apple makes up too much of Telstra's 4G success, stating that it would balance out.

"It's definitely had a very strong six months, but I think you'll see a whole new range of products coming in the next six months, both Android and Windows 8, and that's where we really want to balance it going forward," he said.

"We're really keen to see a good consumer choice right across the range."

Telstra will also offer the new BlackBerry Z10, Thodey said, and the telco will continue to support the BlackBerry platform.

"I think again, that BlackBerry has a market segment that they can appeal to...but it is still early days with BlackBerry. We will be supporting that platform, there are a lot of users, and we think it has a place," he said.

"We like to have a nice ecosystem of alternatives for our customers."

Thodey said 4G handsets make up just under 1 million of the devices sold, while dongles and hotspots are just over 500,000.

The 4G wi-fi hotspots are proving popular with the construction and manufacturing industries, the CEO said.

Thodey said that Telstra is on track to have the company's 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network rolled out to 66 percent of Australia by the end of June, and said that the company's focus is to get customers off 3G and onto 4G.

"We're trying to migrate as many customers from the 3G to the 4G, because it takes the pressure off the 3G," he said.

The cost is lower to have a customer on 4G, he said, and the average revenue per user is slightly higher than on 3G, but he said it would be a while before revenue would grow on 4G.

"We're at the beginning of a whole new phase of growth, but I think it's probably a year away."

The company is gearing up to bid in April for so-called waterfront spectrum in the 700MHz band that will be used for Telstra's 4G network. Vodafone pulled out of the 700MHz auction prior to the reserve pricing being announced, and Optus has said that the reserve price is too high compared to the rest of the world. Thodey said that Telstra will ensure it gets value for money in the auction.

"We would not bid unless we thought we could get an appropriate return," he said. "If we are going to be, we are going to be very disciplined about the price we bid."

On the question about whether he is concerned that spectrum would go unused due to a lack of bidders, Thodey said he is limited in what he can say.

"As much as I'd like to talk about it, I'm not allowed to talk about it under confidentiality agreement with government."

Telstra today reported adding 607,000 new mobile customers in the second half of 2012, bringing the company's total mobile customer base to 14.4 million.

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