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Optus job cuts pass 900

Optus has cut an extra 184 jobs, totalling more than what it had originally planned under the company's restructure.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

SingTel's Australian subsidiary Optus has shed 184 additional roles outside of its original plan of 750.

The company revealed in SingTel's Q2 results today that it had shed 746 roles in the year between September 30, 2011 and September 30, 2012, which the company had forecast earlier this year as part of a major restructure of the Australian business. Between March and June, Optus shed 475 staff, to a headcount of 9,178, and between June and September, the company reduced its headcount by a further 109. In October, the company made an additional cut of 350 roles. In total, the company has now cut 934 roles.

Optus' chief consumer officer Kevin Russell told ZDNet today that in the course of assessing the company, it had found "more opportunities" for efficiencies in the staffing numbers.

"We have found more opportunities than expected, in terms of efficiencies. The last part of that is just being clearer on our focus as a business, and clearer in the things we are going to execute well in the next two or three years," he said.

ZDNet understands that the original 750 announcement did not include the cuts in Optus' ICT business subsidiary Alphawest, nor did it include jobs that were cut as part of an alignment with the SingTel Digital Life division.

In total, Optus has now cut close to 10 percent of its workforce as part of its restructure. This percentage is roughly the same amount that Vodafone is seeking to cut from its business as part of its own restructure.

In results released as part of parent-company SingTel's results today, Optus reported an underlying net profit decline of 8.7 percent for the half-year ending September 30, blaming reduced mobile termination rates and stiff competition in the mobile market.

Net profit was reported as AU$325 million, down from AU$356 million from the same period in 2011. The company blamed a lower operating revenue of AU$98 million for the second quarter on the reduction in mobile termination rates and reduced equipment sales.

Russell said that Optus' decision to cease subsidising prepaid handsets had seen the company lose 100,000 prepaid customers in the last quarter, but this was offset by an increase in post-paid customers by 132,000, bringing Optus' total mobile customer base to 9.5 million, up from 9.2 million as of September 30, 2011.

Removing the subsidy for prepaid handsets was better for profitability, Russell said, as it removed the risk of subsidised handsets being switched over to other mobile networks. He said that while some of the prepaid customers did migrate to post-paid plans, it wasn't the only reason for the rise in post-paid customers.

"There has been a degree of prepaid to post-paid migration, but that's not what is driving the post-paid numbers. The post-paid numbers are consistent with our competitive position in the marketplace,"

While Optus is keen to promote the rollout of its 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network, Russell today refused to disclose how many 4G devices the company had sold since launching in July. Russell said that the company will roll out 4G in Adelaide and Canberra in the first quarter of 2013.

The company also owes much of its recent customer adds to the purchase of Vividwireless, which accounted for 60,000 new customers.

Optus recently informed customers of Vividwireless company Unwired that it would cease operating the Unwired network from February 28, 2013. It has offered those customers a range of 3G and 4G plans as alternatives.

In fixed, Optus added 6,000 additional fixed broadband customers and 4,000 hybrid-fibre coaxial customers in the three months between June and September 2012, tipping the company just over the 1 million mark for total fixed-line customers.

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