4G customers flocking to sign up with Telstra
Telstra has added 600,000 new 4G customers since it announced its half-yearly profit in early February, further cementing its position as the leading player in the crucial high-speed mobile market.
Telstra had grown its 4G customer base from 1.5 million to 2.1 million in less than three months, Telstra's deputy chief financial officer, Mark Hall, said at Macquarie's Australia Equities Conference.
Mr Hall also said Telstra was on track to meet its full-year earnings guidance and was aiming to lift dividends over time.
Telstra shares on Wednesday jumped above $5, trading at their highest level in almost eight years. It is one of the best-performing blue-chip stocks on the ASX this year.
"We have continued revenue, profit and customer growth," Mr Hall told the conference. "Our strategic focus remains unchanged, and, most importantly, we are on track for full-year guidance."
Telstra is expected to pay fully franked dividends totalling 28¢ a share in fiscal 2013, in line with previous years.
Meanwhile, he said the telco's investment in the 4G network was delivering mobile market share.
Since the launch of the high-speed network in September 2011, Telstra has increased its 4G customer base to 2.1 million, including 1.4 million handsets and 150,000 tablets.
Telcos count each device as a "customer" and do not take into account that people may own multiple devices. Carriers such as Telstra are reluctant to change the way they count customer numbers because it is one of the key matrixes that equity analysts use to assess a company's performance.
Deutsche Bank estimates Telstra's 4G coverage is likely to result in a 2 per cent increase in "average revenue per user" for financial years 2015 and 2016. Telco analyst Vikas Gour says it is likely to result in a net impact of 44¢ a share on Telstra's valuation.
Telstra's rivals are also scrambling to roll out their 4G networks nationwide.
Optus, the nation's second-largest carrier, has extended its 4G coverage to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Newcastle and Adelaide. It plans to spend $2 billion over the next two years on its 4G network to broadly match Telstra's coverage in major urban centres.
Vodafone is due to launch its 4G network in June.