Monday, February 15, 2021

Telstra sees path to growth now that nbn is complete

Telstra's total income for the half fiscal year ended 31-December-2020 decreased 10.4 percent versus the prior corresponding period to $12.0 billion, while NPAT decreased 2.2 percent to $1.1 billion. Reported EBITDA decreased 14.7 percent to $4.1 billion. After adjusting for lease accounting on a like-for-like basis, EBITDA decreased 11.7 percent to $4.0 billion.

Some highlights during the half

  • Telstra added more than 80,000 postpaid handheld mobile services with healthy performance across all segments and brands. 
  • Telstra also added more than 46,000 unique prepaid handheld users, and more than 163,000 Wholesale mobile services across prepaid, postpaid and IoT services.
  • Mobile revenue declined due to lower hardware sales and the impact on international roaming from COVID-19. 
  • Telstra has expanded its 5G rollout to selected areas in more than 100 cities and towns across Australia, and the network now provides 5G coverage to more than 50% of the population. Telstra intends to increase that to 75% by June. 
  • Currently, there are around one million 5G devices connected to the Telstra network
  • Reported postpaid handheld ARPU declined 8.6 percent for the half, or approximately 3 percent if the impacts to international roaming are removed. This decline was all due to noneconomic accounting impacts, out-of-bundle declines and Belong dilution, with impacts from recent pricing changes now positive. 
  • In Fixed – Consumer & Small Business, bundles and data revenue declined 0.6 per cent with ARPU stabilizing as customers were moved to in-market plans. Telstra said it would focus on
  • increasing ARPU through differentiation, add-ons and improved plan mix including a higher proportion of customers on 100Mbps+ plans.
  • In Fixed – Enterprise, revenue declined 6.4 percent as Telstra transitioned from providing virtual private corporate networks to integrating over-the-Internet technologies such as SDWAN
  • with Telstra Fibre and NBN access. NAS income declined 6 percent.
  • Fixed - Wholesale results also showed continued declines in legacy products including from nbn headwinds, and commercial works declines. The ongoing portfolio including passive infrastructure grew.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn states: “After a decade of disruption following the creation of the nbn, and with its rollout now declared complete, we can clearly see the path to underlying growth ahead of us,” Mr Penn said. “We responded strongly to the financial headwinds created by the nbn through our T22 strategy.

This strategy is transforming Telstra while balancing the needs of our customers, our employees and our shareholders. We are now less than 18 months from completing T22. We have achieved an extraordinary amount and Telstra today is a leaner, more responsive, and more agile company than it has ever been.

“Our investment in innovation and technology, digitisation and networks, improving our customer experience and being disciplined in our capital management, mean that at the start of thisdecade, as Australia digitises its economy, Telstra is in a strong position to grow.

“To ensure our future success, we must recognise this moment for what it is – the time to be bold and seize the opportunities we have been patiently building towards. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but I remain confident we can achieve our financial ambitions including for underlying EBITDA of between $7.5 and $8.5 billion and ROIC of around 8 percent by FY23,” he said.

Telstra also noted progress on the establishment and proposed monetisation of InfraCo Towers, as well as the broader legal restructuring of the organisation announced in November 2020.

Mr Penn said Telstra had significantly progressed the establishment of InfraCo Towers as a separate operating business, with significant work due to be completed by the end of FY21 as previously indicated.

Australia declares NBN "built and fully operational"

Paul Fletcher, Australia's Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, has declared the National Broadband Network as " "built and fully operational." Thedeclaration is one of the steps that must occur under the NBN Companies Act before NBN Co can be privatised, but does not automatically trigger any further steps and the government has stated that it does not intend to consider privitisation during this term of Parliament.

Minister Fletcher stated that his formal declaration is based on a number of factors, including:

  • The number of premises able to connect to the NBN is over 11.86 million premises
  • At NBN Co’s FY20 results announcement in August 2020 there were around 100,000 complex premises yet to be made ‘ready to connect’ (RTC), that number has now reduced substantially and is expected to be around 35,000 as at 31 December 2020
  • New premises are being built all the time. This means that there will always be a number of premises around Australia that are not yet ‘ready to connect’. The fact that there is a certain number of premises which are not ready to connect is not of itself evidence that the network cannot be treated as ‘built and fully operational.’

“In my view the evidence before me shows it is appropriate to make the declaration that the NBN should be treated as built and fully operational’, Minister Fletcher said.

"Of course the government recognises that there are some premises which have not yet been made ready to connect – and I expect NBN Co to work as speedily as possible to make the network available to those premises.

"The government also recognises that there is continuing work to enhance the capabilities of the network. Earlier this year we announced a $4.5 billion upgrade to the NBN; the work to deliver that upgrade will be carried out over several years.

"Also, in some areas the NBN can only operate at full speed once all legacy copper services are migrated to an NBN or alternative service, which typically takes 18 months from when the NBN commenced services in an area. To minimise interference to the legacy services of other carriers during this period, the NBN operates with reduced signal power which reduces network speeds.

"But this doesn’t mean that NBN Co will stop developing. I fully expect that the Company will operate as a mature entity through continual improvement in the provision of quality services to its broadband retail customers, and ultimately to Australian households and businesses, as well as driving efficiency in its operations.

"As with all large telecommunications networks, NBN Co will need to keep investing in additional network capacity, extend its network to connect new developments and remediate technical issues as they arise."

Australia's NBN Co pushes fiber deeper and advances HFC network upgrade

NBN Co is pushing fibre deeper into communities in selected metropolitan and regional areas of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. The fibre deeper work will pass more than 100,000 premises in areas currently serviced by Fibre to the Node (FTTN) technology, effectively converting FTTN locations to FTTP. NBN Co said it will consult with Internet retailers before finalising the design for its extended fibre network.

This marks the start of NBN Co’s $4.5 billion network investment program, which aims to make nbn’s highest wholesale speed tiers available, as demand arises, to around 8 million premises – or up to 75 percent of homes and businesses on the fixed line network by 2023.

NBN Co also reports that it is making good progress on its Hybrid Fibre Cable (HFC) network upgrade program. The company now expects to offer download speeds of 500 Mbps to close to 1 Gbps to approximately 625,000 premises, or around 25 percent of the HFC network footprint by November 2020.

NBN Co also reports that it is making good progress on its Hybrid Fibre Cable (HFC) network upgrade program. Since the company launched its nbn Home Fast, nbn Home Superfast and nbn Home Ultrafast wholesale speed tiers in May 2020, 100 percent of customers connected via HFC have been able to order nbn Home Fast; approximately 70 percent have been able to order nbn Home Superfast, and approximately 7 percent of customers in the HFC footprint have been able to access the fastest residential speed tier1.