Telstra posts $1.7 billion half-year profit, claims 4.1 million 4G devices

Telstra has reported a 9.7% year-on-year increase in net profit to $1.7 billion during the six months ending December 2013, with the company attributing the result to growth in mobiles and its cloud-based network applications and services businesses.

The telecommunications giant reported its total income grew by $502 million, or 4.1%, to $12.8 billion.

The company also announced an increased interim dividend of 14.5 cents, distributing $1.8 back billion to shareholders

The company now claims 15.8 million mobile customers, including 4.1 million 4G devices, although it’s worth noting a customer with both a 4G tablet and a 4G smartphone would be counted as two “devices” and one “customer”.

In a statement to investors, chief executive David Thodey highlights the telco’s continued investment in mobile infrastructure and customer growth.

“Our customer focus has led to continued mobile growth with the addition of 739,000 new retail mobile customer services and an increase in mobile services revenue of 7.3%.

“We continued to invest in maintaining our network leadership, highlighted by our $650 million capital investment in mobiles infrastructure in the half.

“At Christmas we achieved a significant milestone, with our 4G network reaching 85% coverage of the Australian population, including the upgrade of 1500 mobile base stations to 4G in the past six months.

“We now have 3500 4G mobile base stations across the country, giving us four times the 4G coverage area of any other company.”

Thodey also highlight’s Telstra’s ongoing investment in NAS or cloud businesses.

“Our NAS business recorded revenue growth of 29% to $821 million.

“We continued to invest in NAS by building our capabilities and acquiring companies such as North Shore Communications and O2 Networks.

“Group operating expenses increased by 2.1% in the first half, largely driven by costs supporting revenue growth. For example, we have incurred upfront costs to support the implementation of our largest contract, Department of Defence , as well as expenditure on programs to improve customer service.”

The acquisitions of O2 and NSC formed part of an ongoing shift in strategic focus for the carrier, which recently announced the sale of a 70% stake in its Sensis directory advertising business to US-based private equity firm Platinum Equity for $454 million.

Meanwhile, in December of last year, Telstra announced the sale of its Hong Kong-based mobiles business, CSL, to HKT Limited for $US2.425 billion.

Late last month, Telstra also signed a memorandum of understanding to form a cloud computing joint venture with Telkom Indonesia, which would see the Australian carrier supply NAS services to its Indonesian counterpart.

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