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Telstra Still Makes $700m From ISDN, And 9 Other Surprising Facts

Telstra just released its full year financials, and there are some surprising bits of info hidden away inside its 71-page presentation. Here are 10 tidbits and factoids from Australia’s largest telco’s FY14 results.

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  • Telstra has 16 million customers across Australia on its mobile network. That’s a massive 68 per cent of Australia’s 23.5-million-odd national population. Of course, that number doesn’t necessarily point to active customers, so some of those accounts may be lapsed or unused or otherwise inactive in some way. (I’ve registered probably half a dozen prepaid accounts in the last couple of years on my own and only use one regularly, so there’s that.)
  • 5.2 million of those 16 million customers are on 4G, 3.8 million of which use handsets and 1.4 million are hotspots — about a third of the mobile customer base. You’d imagine that a far higher proportion of those customers are active, seeing as 4G was only launched at the start of 2012
  • Telstra still makes over $700 million a year from ISDN — $712 million to be exact. (To be fair, that’s down around 10 per cent from FY13′s $777m.) If you don’t remember ISDN, it’s basically the now-massively-outdated data connectivity predecessor to ADSL, offering a blazing 128Kbps transfer rate both upstream and downstream. Apart from the odd EFTPOS terminal and my old school library’s Windows 3.1 PCs, who the hell else is still using ISDN?
  • 761,000 T Boxes are in Australian homes, up from 563,000 last year. Seven hundred and sixty one thousand. That’s insane! A lot of that (35 per cent) growth would have to do with the fact that a massive 63 per cent of Telstra’s fixed data customers are on bundles. The T Box is theoretically a great product, but it’s a little less than perfect in practice in my opinion; those 761,000 owners should feel free to disagree in the comments below.
  • This deserves its own bullet point. Telstra had 150 per cent growth in its Foxtel on T Box subscriber base, up to 185,000 customers from the 74,000 in FY13. 4.8m on-demand movie downloads is only slightly up from the previous year’s 4.2m, but those subscriber numbers are far, far bigger than I expected. A lot of that would have to do with Telstra’s seemingly attractive Entertainer bundles.
  • A full 155,000 Telstra customers subscribe to Telstra’s own MOG music streaming service, or AFL or NRL streaming apps. Telstra doesn’t split those numbers up, but Lifehacker’s Angus Kidman rightly suggested that the vast majority of those should be AFL — it has the most passionate fanbase of Australia’s various sporting codes, and double the number of people have downloaded the Telstra AFL app (2.3m total) versus NRL (1.2m). With strong competition from Spotify and Rdio and JB Hi-Fi NOW, I don’t expect that MOG makes up a great deal of that 155,000 number.
  • Australia’s fledgling National Broadband Network accounted for $640 million of Telstra revenue in total, up from the $399 million of FY13. This number is probably only going to rise in coming years as the multi-technology mix is further rolled out around the company, and Telstra transitions at least some of its huge customer base onto the new network, new plans and, let’s be honest, new bundles.
  • $1.5 billion has been spent to date on Telstra’s IP core network, the largest in Australia. It’s that backbone that powers the telco’s own ADSL2+ and cable internet services. Interestingly, Telstra upgraded its cable network in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and the Gold Coast in FY14, and is planning further developments for FY15. This suggests that Telstra is pretty confident cable will be around for a while as part of the coalition-designed MTM NBN.
  • That $100 million Wi-Fi Nation network should have 1,000 hotspots switched on in metropolitan and holiday centres around Australia, ready for its 2015 launch. If you’re a Telstra home internet customer, you’ll be able to wander around your city or holiday destination and use your smartphone or tablet as if you were in your own household, drawing on your own home data quota.
  • Telstra pushed $25 billion in income last year, broadly the same as the year before that. That’s a lot of money.

Bonus fact: Telstra spent a lot of money on lighting last year. [ASX / Telstra]


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