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Optus struggles to pick up new customers

Optus added a little over 1,000 new mobile customers in the first three months of 2014, as many of its existing customers switch over to its 4G network.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Despite new plans aimed at breaking bill shock, Optus is still struggling to pick up mobile customers from its competitors, adding just 1,000 net mobile customers in the three months to March 31,2014.

In results announced by parent company SingTel today, Optus reported adding 18,000 new prepaid customers for the three months, offsetting a decline in postpaid customers of almost the same amount. Optus' mobile customer base sits at 9.432 million, up from 9.431 million, as of the end of December 2013.

Postpaid monthly customer churn was down for the company, however, for the quarter from 1.6 percent to 1.3 percent, and Optus boasting a +5 net promoter score.

"We have built a solid foundation with our customers by raising service levels, and significantly lifting customer satisfaction. This reflects major investments in customer experience and networks," acting Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan said in a statement.

In part, as a result of network investment, Optus reported a quarterly net profit decline of AU$26 million to AU$223 million. Revenue for the quarter was down 4.9 percent to AU$2.06 billion. For the year, operating revenue was down 5.2 percent to AU$8.4 billion, while net profit was up 14.6 percent to AU$835 million.

Optus said it now has 2.15 million 4G handsets on its network, up 342,000 on the previous quarter. A total of 32 percent of Optus' postpaid customers are now on 4G, and its 4G network now extends out to 75 percent of metropolitan Australia, out to 1,784 cell sites.

As part of the company's overhaul of postpaid plans, customers who go over their monthly data or call limit are bumped up to the next highest plan. Optus said that 31 percent of its customers were bumped up a plan in the quarter.

It comes as Optus is on the hunt for a new CEO to replace Kevin Russell, who left the company at the end of March.

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