After $552m loss, 3 says worst is over

Mobile operator Hutchison Telecommunications has posted a $552 million loss for last year, but claims good gains in subscriber numbers.

Australia's sole 3G operator attributed its loss to the costs in expanding 3's customer base.

"$552 million is significant, but is consistent with previous guidance and we believe represents a peak in annual losses," said Hutchison CEO Kevin Russell.

The company lost $409 million in 2003.

However, the number of 3 subscribers increased 113 percent on 2003, with 879,000 at the end of 2004.

The result helped Hutchison increase its share of the mobile market from 3.5 percent (2003) to 7 percent (2004).

However, it could soon face stiff competition from Telstra, which is expected to launch its 3G offering this year.

Also on the positive side was the start of the decline in costs of handsets and operating expenses, according to Russell, with Hutchison's $447 million 3G network-sharing deal with Telstra last year contributing to the latter.

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