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TPG sees mobile rebound

TPG Telecom has reported a second half year of growth in its mobile subscriber base, reversing years of decline following the purchase of Soul Mobile.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

TPG Telecom has reported a second half year of growth in its mobile subscriber base, reversing years of decline following the purchase of Soul Mobile.

When TPG bought Soul, it inherited its mobile subscriber base of 230,000, but this number fell to 219,000 in January 2009 as the company rebranded customers to TPG Mobile. While it held steady with 220,000 customers in July 2009, the situation became worse over the next three half-years, as the number of customers joining TPG Mobile customers was insufficient to offset the number of Soul Mobile customers that were leaving. By January 2011, TPG's mobile subscriber base was down to 195,000.

However, in the last half-year to July 2011 there was a modest rise of about 6000 customers, and this half to January 2012, TPG has netted 21,000 new customers, bringing its total mobile subscriber base back to 222,000. Of these, only 6000 are Soul Mobile customers, and the company has plans to wind the Soul segment of its business down. TPG believes the increase in growth is due to the release of its Super Value Mobile Plans in September 2011, which placed greater momentum behind gaining TPG Mobile customers.

The company has also enjoyed continued growth in its broadband subscriber base this half, which it ended with 19,000 more customers than the previous half. The total number of its broadband customers stands at 567,000; 156,000 of these choose to bundle with home phone. These bundles have also been responsible for growth in home phone subscribers, with total home phone numbers up 47,000 subscribers to a total of 172,000.

The company's growth in subscribers has been echoed by a growth in its finances. For the first half of 2011-12, TPG has increased its net profit after tax to $55.7 million, up 65 per cent on the same reporting period last year.

Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation also increased to $131.9 million, up 17 per cent, and in conjunction with positive free cash flow of $76.6 million, it has had an effect on the dividend payable to shareholders.

Shareholders' upcoming interim dividend will increase by 22 per cent to 2.75 cents per share, but shareholders will not be able to take advantage of the company's dividend reinvestment plan as TPG's directors have suspended the program for now.

The company was looking to the release of three new offerings to drive future sales. The first is a set-top box unit for its IPTV product. The box will have Wi-Fi, Ethernet and HDMI interfaces, and be plug-and-play compatible.

Small businesses will have video surveillance included in most Small Business Broadband plans. The company will provide them with a camera, for a once-off fee of $149.99, and provide 24 hours worth of storage space in the cloud. It will also sell 30 days of storage space for an additional $10 per month.

Also on the small business side, it plans to roll out Business VoIP services. Small businesses will be able to pay about $30 per month for three VoIP services, including handsets, which will provide them with unlimited calls to local and standard national landline numbers.

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