Telco Optus appears to have turned the corner, reporting a profit boost despite 31,000 fewer mobile customers.
Australia’s second largest telco made a first half profit of $394 million, up 2.3 per cent on the same period a year earlier.
Optus’ profit in the September quarter was up 5.4 per cent as 4G customer numbers rose.
But overall, the company had 9.403 million mobile subscribers, down from 9.432 million six months earlier.
The fall was driven by a decline in the number of mobile broadband subscribers who are increasingly using the one mobile plan across several mobile devices.
Chief executive Allen Lew said the company was progressing with its strategy of offering simpler plans for customers, plus the rollout of high-speed 4G services.
“We’re happy with the way it’s going,” Mr Lew told reporters on Thursday.
“We’re creating better customer engagement through our multiple voice and data SIM plans.”
The number of 4G customers rose by almost 320,000 between July and September to 2.75 million.
Since June, Optus has launched an aggressive marketing effort and changes to its products – including data sharing across mobile devices.
In the June quarter Optus’ profit fell 1.8 per cent to $164 million compared to the previous year.
Mr Lew added that Optus would soon reveal the nature of a new corporate partnership in relation to digital mobile content.
“It has to have information about what’s happening, particularly in Australia and within the cities and towns that we are focused and it also has to leverage off the learnings we have in Singtel’s Digital Life Team.”
IG market analyst Evan Lucas said the 4G rollout had increased revenue by seven per cent, but the company was still fighting the Telstra tide.
Profit was in line with market expectations while revenue was slightly below expectations, he said.
“There is a turnaround story finally happening but there’s always a concern they are having to compete with Telstra to use their own hardware and pay slightly higher rates,” Mr Lucas said.
A fall in mobile subscribers continued to be an issue for Optus in a highly competitive market, he added.