Optus wins over mobile voice and data users

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Optus wins over mobile voice and data users

Benefits from competitor woes.

Optus has added another 92,000 wireless broadband subscribers to its customer base, contributing to a 6.9 percent growth rate in its mobile business for the third quarter.

The carrier today reported mobile business revenues of $1.56 billion and total operating revenues up 4 percent.

In addition to wireless broadband additions – which brought its total customer base to 1.19 million subscribers – Optus added 88,000 new mobile customers in the third quarter.

That brought its total net addition of mobile customers up to 468,000 for the nine months so far this financial year.

Some of them came from competitor Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), whose network problems left many customers wanting to churn away.

"We certainly have benefited from some of the issues with Vodafone's coverage, but we like to attract customers on our own value proposition rather than because they might be unhappy with another provider," Optus chief Paul O'Sullivan said.

But like Telstra, Optus saw its costs increase as it pursued customers.

"Acquisition cost per subscriber was 19 percent higher compared to the preceding quarter and 20 percent higher than a year ago, reflecting an increased mix of smartphones and the first full quarter of iPhone 4 availability," the carrier reported.

In addition, wireless broadband growth had a slight impact on blended average revenue per user (ARPU) in the mobile business, putting it down $1 to $47. If wireless broadband is excluded, ARPU rose 1.7 percent year-on-year, Optus said.

And the carrier's prepaid mobile customer base declined 62,000 net, due to churn away from its 'International Calls for Less' product.

O'Sullivan said that Optus' strategy was focused around sustainable growth, not on "reacting to competitors", referring to Telstra's customer acquisition strategy that had come in part at the expense of profits.

"Our major competitor has reacted to losing market share over a considerable period by sacrificing profits," he said.

"In some way, we see it as an acknowledgement of our strategy over the past few years. I can tell you at this stage Optus is focused on sustainable ongoing growth."

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