'Aggressive investment' in 4G central to Optus' strategy

Revenue down but profit up

"An aggressive investment in the mobile network" to increase its quality and performance is fundamental to Optus' strategy the telco's chief Paul O'Sullivan said today. The telco added 342,000 4G customers in Q4 and now has 2.15 million 4G-capable devices on its network, it revealed today.

"In February we reported the completion of our largest ever 3G upgrade program to give customers a superior indoor network experience," O'Sullivan said today in a briefing on the telco's full-year results.

O'Sullivan is in the chief executive role while the telco searches for a new after Kevin Russell resigned in February.

"During the fourth quarter we reached another major network milestone with the Optus 4G footprint now covering 75 per cent of the Australian metropolitan population," O'Sullivan said.

"Our focus over the next 12 months is to rapidly expand Optus 4G coverage where people live and work, and in particular we will leverage the 700MHz spectrum band which will become available to us in the early part of the coming calendar year."

The telco reported a revenue decline of 5 per cent but a 15 per cent increase in net profit for the financial year ending 31 March. Optus reported a net profit of $835 million for the year, up from $728 million in the previous year.

Efforts to improve customer experience have reduced the rate of customer loss, O'Sullivan said. These efforts "have been reflected in our postpaid retail churn, which has declined from 1.6 per cent to 1.3 per cent, which means that our churn is now at its lowest level in more than seven years"; the telco lost some 160,000 customers during the year.

Optus restructure

O'Sullivan said that the restructure announced earlier this year that led to around 350 redundancies was "not simply a cost cutting program".

"It's about a restructuring of the company so that can deliver a better customer experience and also to reflect the change in the market," O'Sullivan said.

"So for example we have reduced our dependency on third party distribution for selling to customers because we know when customers come through branded stores, particularly stores that we or a franchisee are operating, that they get a much better customer experience."

The restructure involved affected the telco's consumer, business and corporate support divisions.

"These changes will result in the consolidation and centralisation of some roles and functions, some positions becoming redundant, the reorganisation of some teams and the creation of new teams and roles," an email sent to staff about the restructure in April stated.

"The strategy set for this financial year does not change following this announcement," the email said.

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