The company responsible for the National Broadband Network posted its first half numbers on Thursday, with a 12% boost in revenue to AU$2.5 billion, and a 84% reduction in payments to Telstra and Optus dropping to AU$126 million.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the first year climbed 254% to AU$1.5 billion, while a steady AU$1.7 billion in depreciation and amortisation gave the company an 85% improvement in EBIT from AU$1.28 billion loss to a AU$193 million loss.
Following AU$752 million in finance costs, and an AU$88 million tax benefit, NBN posted a net loss of AU$857 million, a 59% improvement on last year's figures.
Pleasingly for the company, its stubborn residential average revenue per user (ARPU) finally shifted from AU$45 to AU$46. Including business connections, NBN needs average revenue per user of AU$51.
NBN CEO Stephen Rue said the ARPU boost was due to customers taking up higher speeds, with a quarter of the network now left sitting on 12Mbps and 25Mbps connections. With recent discounting such as the Focus on Fast campaign, the company is seeing customers being more inclined to keep those higher speeds when the discounts are withdrawn when they shift from 12Mbps or 25Mbps up to 50Mbps, rather than when a customer moves from 50Mbps up to 250Mbps.
As part of its pricing consultation, NBN is looking to make the 25Mbps tier its entry-level product, and leave the 12Mbps tier as a voice-only product at a reduced price.
During the half, business customers contributed AU$493 million in revenue, representing a 24% increase, with NBN chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb stating it now had 10,000 enterprise ethernet services.
"That's pretty much from a standing start three years ago, we're quite pleased with the take-up there, serving primarily small and medium business, and a big component of that is serving those businesses in regional Australia," he said.
At the end of calendar 2021, NBN said it had AU$17.3 billion in private debt, and had repaid AU$12 billion of the AU$19.5 billion loan from the federal government. The company expects the rest of the government debt will be paid down by June 2024.