Optus has spent $103 million over the past three months bolstering its 3G network to support the one product category showing significant growth — prepaid.
As fixed line customers remain flat for Australia's number two telco, Optus has also seen rapid growth in its prepaid mobile subscriber base over the past six months. The Singtel subsidiary now has 8.2 million mobile phone subscribers, 4.35 million of which are on no-contract prepaid accounts, it reported today in its half year results to September 2009. Its prepaid mobile customer base grew 14 per cent in the half year to September 2009, almost twice as fast as post-paid customers.
Optus netted around $47 per month from each mobile customer, with wireless broadband (and premium SMS content) revenue accounting for 12 per cent of that — up from 7.6 per cent last year.
Optus now claims to have just under a third of the total mobile market, and noted its 2G reselling partnership with Woolworths as a significant win. Mobile revenue for the half year to September 2009 grew 12 per cent to $1.38 billion for the September quarter, and $2.7 billion for the half year. Mobile accounted for over half of its $4.4 billion half year revenues.
The importance of mobile to Optus was reflected in its capital expenditure, with mobile attracting 45 per cent of the total budget. Optus spent $124 million on mobile equipment in the three months to September of which $103 million was spent on upgrading and expanding its 3G network.
Optus has shed around 219 jobs compared to last year, but in the past three months has marginally boosted its headcount from 10,494 to September's total of 10,521. It reported revenue per employee at $420,000 over a six-month period.
Optus now has just over 1 million fixed line consumer subscribers and roughly the same number of broadband subscribers. 430,000 of those broadband subscribers are on Optus' Hybrid Fibre Coaxial network and 444,000 are on its unbundled local loop (ULL) service, with the total up from 342,000 last year. The telco reported a shift away from reselling "unprofitable" off-net services.
Optus' business voice revenue took a significant hit, falling 9.3 per cent from the $212 million it netted in the same period in 2008 to $192 million for the past six months. However, this was offset by a tidy boost to its managed services and IT work, handled by subsidiary Alphawest, which saw revenue jump from $195 million over the second half of 2008 to $247 million this half. Business revenue accounts for 15 per cent of its $4.4 billion half year revenues.