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Optus gains 4G ground on Telstra

Optus has revealed for the first time that it has sold over 785,000 4G handsets since launching the network last year.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

Despite a 6.9 percent decline in quarterly profit year on year, Optus has confirmed that it has a strong foothold in the 4G market, revealing that it has sold 785,000 handsets since the network launched last year.

The SingTel company revealed in its quarterly results that from the launch in July last year until the end of March this year, 785,000 4G handsets had been sold on the network, which now extends out to over 750 sites across Australia.

This excludes sales figures for 4G dongles and wi-fi hotspots, which Optus has yet to disclose.

Australia's number two telco still has a lot of ground to make up, however. Telstra, by comparison, has sold more than 1.5 million 4G handsets, and 2.1 million 4G devices overall since it launched its 4G network in September 2011.

The move comes as Vodafone has indicated that customers with 4G-capable devices like the iPhone 5 and iPad will start getting carrier updates this weekend to prepare for 4G, ahead of a commercial launch in June.

Overall, Optus reported a 6.9 percent fall in quarterly profit down to AU$249 million, from AU$267 million in the same quarter in 2012.

Optus blamed the lower profit on mandated decline in mobile termination rates and service credits associated with device repayment plans.

Optus added 28,000 post-paid mobile customers in the quarter, bringing the total number of post-paid customers up to 5.5 million. Although there was a slight decline in prepaid customers, Optus' overall mobile customer base grew to 9.59 million.

Staff costs have decreased by 15 percent for Optus, with the company now having reduced its headcount by 9.5 percent in the last year, down from 9,653 as of the end of March 2012 to 8,740 at the end of March 2013.

Following the company's restructure last year, Optus chief country officer Kevin Russell said that the company is focused on sustainable growth.

"We are committed to a sustainable business model and to rekindling the spirit of the Optus brand with a transformation program that fundamentally improves the services we deliver to our customers," he said in a statement.

"Customers are already experiencing the impact of this transformation through an increased focus on our branded retail footprint, usage alerts, which help them manage their spending and caps on excess data. Such initiatives are already making an impact with mobile post-paid retail churn reducing to 1.6 percent, versus 1.8 percent during the preceding quarter."

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