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 If you don't remember ISDN, it's basically the now-massively-outdated data connectivity predecessor to ADSL, offering a blazing 128Kbps transfer rate both upstream and downstream.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, 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]



    Assuming ISDN is the service being sold, this would also cover off phone lines, not just networking. Most larger businesses would have ISDN lines for their phones, as getting 30 odd PSTN lines inbounds is just ridiculous when, instead, you could just get an OnRamp30 over ISDN.

      This. The business I work for had 5 PRI ISDN lines last time I checked (although those were mostly with Optus, not Telstra.)

      A PRI gives you up to 30x 64kbps channels in each direction, coming into the premises as just a couple of wires. It's a heck of a lot easier to cable up than a bundle of 30 PSTNs (or even 10 PSTNs if you have a smaller business).

      Some older PABXes also permit bundles of BRI lines to be hooked up, although it's been a while since I saw that configuration actually used.

      I work for one of Australia's largest retailers servicing one of their brands. A major sticking point is the Business grade ISDN connections which serve data at a snail's pace. We alone have 800 connections

    ISDN is used for on-ramp services to provide business trunks. Not just for internet connections.

    T-Box is junk. I had to send one back because it never worked and might have to do the same with my second 1. Don't get one.

    I'm glad to say that I haven't given two cents to them. I refuse to use them. They are Australia's biggest rip off.

      ^ That. I outright refuse to use them until a time comes when Im cornered and they are my very last option.

      ^ I Pay $120 a month for
      NBN 100 down and 40 up - 500gb
      Cable tv (15 base channels)
      Unlimited phone/mobile calls
      500mb mobile data

      I also get a bonus for my mobile phone

      That's pretty god dam good I would say

    isps still offering dial up accounts would use isdn would they?

    ISDN is still used as the backup solution to some inter-company interfaces. The cost to maintain is so low - and actual usage almost negligible. It's low on the agenda for upgrades.

      ISDN2 costs $75 or thereabouts - how is that "so low" ??

        Which is lot cheaper than 24h supported ADSL/ADSL2 or fibre. For some business it was (is) a small price to pay to mitigate any risk of not having the connection.

        I know many of the ISDN links my company has are in the decommission pipeline - but not to update to new tech - because the connectivity is being moved offshore.

      This guy is right. I know many companies as a back up have ISDN connected through. Its a cheaper option than being down for any numbers of hours.

    "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." - No, there are way more mobile subcriptions than there are people in this country. A lot of businesses and people with multiple devices (e.g. tablet, mobile, 3g dongle). This is a meaningless stat.

      The stat is for 'customers' rather than 'subscriptions', so unless Telstra is being a little circuitous with its accounting, the 16.0m suggests that multiple subscriptions would be covered under the one account...

        Wouldn't this 16million customers include businesses? In this case I would be 2 'customers' once in the business name and once for my personal tablet. I don't really think the analogy to 68% of the population is a good one IMHO.

    "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."

    I have both a TBox and a Microsoft Xbox Gold account and I can't tell much difference between them. The available movies and TV shows are generally the same as are the additional services although these differ more than the movies and TV. Costs are very similar for hiring movies and TV shows although Telstra does not have any facility for actually buying a movie or show. There is some cost offset for the TBox because the bandwidth is not subtracted from monthly bandwidth limit.

    Given what is available in Australia I can't quite grasp why you think the TBox is less than perfect, other than the fact that absolutely NOTHING IS perfect.

    TMK the NSW RMS Traffic light system (SCARTS I think it's called) uses it for connectivity

      And the electrical smart meters, that's another 100,000.

    Once mog becomes beats the numbers of people subscribing will sky rocket.

    The TBox is terrible. The customer service is terrible (That being said, i did have one good tech support guy about 4 yrs ago). A lot of people that live outside the metro areas can only get Telstra mobile coverage, so get bundles to try and make some sort of saving. Once they have you signed up, they don't care about you. They care even less if you are one of the unfortunate people who could only get Telstra mobile service, "What are you gonna do about it? No one else serves your area."
    A pox on you and your house, Telstra.

    Giz, you are useless. ISDN is primarily used for business fixed voice calls. I doubt any users use it for net access.

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