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Telstra adds another 739,000 to mobile base

In the last half of 2013, Telstra's mobile customer base grew by another 739,000 services, for a total of 15.8 million active mobile services on its mobile network.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Australia's largest telecommunications company Telstra recorded yet another half of strong customer growth, adding 739,000 new customers to its mobile network.

The company's half-yearly results show that Telstra's mobile customer base now sits at 15.8 million, after adding 739,000 customers to the network between June and the end of December. Telstra's chief financial officer Andy Penn said that the company saw significant growth in prepaid, while growth in post-paid services had slowed.

In the 2011, 2012, and 2013 financial years, Telstra added 1.6 million, 1.5 million, and 1.3 million new mobile customers, respectively.

Mobile revenue was up 6.4 percent for the half to AU$4.8 billion.

At the end of December, Telstra had 4.1 million 4G devices on its network, including 2.9 million handsets and 1.2 million mobile broadband devices.

CEO David Thodey told investors in Melbourne this morning that the growth in Telstra's mobile customer numbers shows the company is succeeding in delivering the best network in Australia that is helping to attract new customers. He said that with Telstra's 4G network now reaching out to 85 percent of the Australian population, the company boasts the largest 4G network in Australia.

"We now have 3,500 4G mobile base stations switched on and working around Australia," he said. "[It is] four times larger than any other comparable network in Australia."

In the half year, Telstra also added 75,000 new retail fixed broadband customers to 2.8 million, and 117,000 new fixed bundle customers to 1.7 million. The company recorded another decline in fixed voice customers by 155,0000 for the half down to 6.4 million.

The company collected AU$294 million in revenue from its AU$11 billion deal with the government and NBN Co. Most of this revenue came from the universal service obligations payments, and the leasing of Telstra's pits and ducts for NBN infrastructure.

He said that Telstra has begun renegotiations with NBN Co over the agreement, in light of the new government's proposed changes to the network that would require the use of Telstra's copper line. Thodey reiterated that the company will act in the best interests of its shareholders, and maintain the value of the original agreement while ensuring that the company gets certainty quickly.

He said that Telstra would be happy to consider options to take a greater role in building the network, provided that it is commercially attractive to the company.

Telstra's burgeoning network applications and services business enjoyed strong growth in the last six months of 2013, up 29.3 percent to AU$635 million. Telstra said that this was due to the backlog of contracts for the company, including the major Department of Defence contract. Telstra's cloud division saw 28.6 percent growth for the half, while unified communications grew by 27.6 percent, and managed network services grew 64.8 percent.

"The results I think speak for themselves. We've got significant capability in this business," Thodey said.

The CEO said that Telstra's global enterprise and services business would continue to explore new options in Asia. He said Telstra now operates in 230 countries and territories, had invested in two new submarines cables for a total of 20 cables, and now has seven datacentres, with another 11 that the company is involved in.

"These assets position Telstra well as we look to expand our business," he said.

Sales revenue for the company for the half was up 3.6 percent to AU$12.6 billion; net profit after tax for the company was AU$1.7 billion for the half, up 9.7 percent.

Telstra has increased its dividend to shareholders to 14.5 cents per share.

Thodey and Penn will hold a press conference with journalists at 11am AEDST.

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