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Optus pairs with Airbnb for data roaming, discounted accommodation

Optus and Airbnb are joining forces to provide users with a AU$50 voucher for accommodation, as well as a AU$30 SIM for global roaming.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Australian telecommunications carrier Optus has partnered with startup Airbnb to provide customers of both services with a prepaid SIM offering international data roaming, as well as discounted accommodation.

The partnership, announced on Friday morning, will initially offer Optus customers who are new users of Airbnb a AU$30 SIM for internet connectivity worldwide, and a AU$50 voucher for accommodation bookings totalling more than AU$100.

"Providing travellers with a little extra credit before they take off will give them one less thing to worry about," said Rohan Ganeson, managing director of customer at Optus.

"Travel is so exciting, but untangling an overseas mobile plan can be a frustrating experience. We partnered with Airbnb to take down this barrier and help travellers feel like a local as soon as they land."

While the current inclusions are one-time offers for new Airbnb users, the companies added that further "ambitious offers" would soon be announced under the partnership.

"This news will be a welcome bonus to Aussies heading overseas this Christmas with Airbnb," said Airbnb general manager Sam McDonagh.

"Next week alone, more than 25,000 locals will use Airbnb to book their accommodation somewhere in the world. This fabulous partnership will let both Optus and Airbnb customers land on their feet as soon as they touchdown anywhere in the world."

Part of the growing sharing economy, Airbnb now has 1.5 million properties in 34,000 cities throughout the globe. In June, it was valued at $25.5 billion after raising $1.5 billion in funding -- making it worth more than hotel chain giant Marriott, which is worth $20.90 billion; Wyndham, which is worth $10.01 billion; and Starwood, which is valued at $14 billion. Hilton remains just ahead of the startup, at $27.7 billion.

For every transaction over its platform, Airbnb takes 3 percent of the total price from the property owner, and between 6 percent and 12 percent from the traveller. Its user base number is more than 35 million, with sales jumping by 340 percent over the past two years, from $250 million to $850 million.

Airbnb last week announced that it would be expanding its 10-person Chinese office after a 700 percent increase in users in China last year.

Optus has also seen growth in its customer base and profits; in August, the telco published its results for the quarter ending June 2015, reporting an increase in net profit of 19.5 percent to AU$196 million on revenues of AU$2.3 billion, and an addition of 38,000 post-paid customers over the quarter, including 290,000 4G subscribers, bringing its total to 9.38 million.

Optus' 4G network now covers 90 percent of the Australian population, with plans to extend this further.

"Since the beginning of 2015, we have switched on 700MHz spectrum at 2,400 metropolitan and regional sites," Optus CEO Allen Lew said.

In this vein, the telco has been switching on its 4G+ network, on Thursday announcing that the Melbourne CBD is now covered by the super-fast FDD and TDD LTE carrier aggregation, which has achieved speeds of up to 317Mbps.

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