Vocus sees even less margin from its NBN users

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Vocus sees even less margin from its NBN users

Revises 1.5 years of numbers.

Vocus has downgraded the profitability of its NBN services by between $2 and $5 per user after a review of how the numbers had been calculated.

The telco said in financial filings that it had “reviewed and standardised … the definition, calculation and collation process” for average revenue and margin per user on both NBN and legacy copper services.

The new method uses monthly numbers averaged over a six-month reporting period.

Comment was being sought on the old methodology, though it is understood to have relied on data inputs collated at a lesser frequency.

The net result is a restatement of its NBN numbers from the past three half-year reporting periods, as well as a completely new reported number: the average cost per user (ACPU) which, for an NBN customer encompasses inputs like AVC, CVC and transit.

There are some big falls in margin numbers: Vocus had previously said its average NBN margins in the six months to June 2016 came in at $22.07, whereas it has now been restated at $17.19, a 22 percent decrease.

Similarly, the six months to December 2016 margin fell from $23.36 to $19.84, while the six months to June 2017 went from $20.26 to $18.34.

For the latest half year period, the margin on NBN products recovered slightly to $18.94 because the company’s cost to service those users decreased.

The new calculation also means that the gap between the profitability of NBN and legacy copper services is also wider than previous thought.

iTnews reported in August last year that the margin gap was $5; based on the revisions, the gap was actually closer to $5.70.

Vocus appeared to indicate today that it expected the gap would not grow much further.

It suggested that the migration of copper customers over to the NBN would have a total EBITDA impact of around $30 million by FY20 when the network is expected to be complete.

It suggested that would mean “around $6 lower AMPU [average margin per user] per SIO [service in operation] per month associated with NBN customers”.

In the first half of FY18, Vocus said it had increased its consumer market share (excluding satellite) from 7.3 percent to 7.7 percent.

It saw no movement in the total number of consumer internet services it manages, which it attributed to changes at its consumer brands Dodo and iPrimus, as well as its decision to stop marketing HFC services over reliability concerns - a decision it said pre-dated NBN Co’s own move to halt HFC sales.

NBN Co stopped sales on the HFC network in late November last year to remediate the network and address performance problems.

Vocus reported a 4 percent lift in overall revenues in the first half of FY18, compared with the previous corresponding period.

However, it “modestly revised” its earnings guidance for the full year “with underlying EBITDA now expected to be in the range of $365-380 million (previously $370 - $390 million) on revenue in the range of $1.9-2 billion (unchanged).”

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