Australia's second largest telco, Optus, has struggled to add more mobile customers as the mobile industry enters slow growth territory after years of breakneck expansion.
The telco reported a fourth-quarter profit of $160 million ended on December 31, down by 7.8 per cent from the same period last year.
Optus managed to attract just 21,000 new mobile customers in the past three months and posted a small increase of 1.7 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Chief executive of Singtel, Optus’s parent company, Chua Sock Koong warned about ‘‘negative mobile industry growth’’ in November last year.
While Optus struggled to attract new mobile users, its key rival Telstra defied industry trend and added more 600,000 customers in the past six months. Telstra has leveraged its network advantage over its rivals and Optus is ramping up its rollout of the superfast 4G network to catch up with Telstra.
Ms Chua said last year ‘'the investments in network, in capacity, in LTE (4G), etc, are absolutely important for our core business’’.
The point was emphasised by Optus chief executive Kevin Russell.
‘‘4G LTE will be a battleground and there is a clear focus on the main competitor, Telstra, in that area,’’ Mr Russell said in November last year.
The company said it would invest ‘‘in the mobile network to improve the customer experience, particularly data services’’ and it would also exit from non-Optus branded distribution and focus on its own branded retail distribution and online presence.
Optus said it had extended its 4G coverage to Brisbane and the Cold Coast in addition to major capital cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Mr Russell also flagged last year that the company would focus on extracting more profit from the increased demand for data.
He told analysts in November last year ‘‘we see a big opportunity in terms of how we rollout 4G network and start to put in price plans that can generate improved revenues in data’’.