Wednesday, 02 December 2015 17:11

Telstra still ‘master of the game’ over rivals Optus, Vodafone: analysts Featured

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Telstra dominates the Australian telecoms market with a revenue share of around 62%, and is now well-positioned to increase its business at the expense e of its rival telcos in the emerging digital, sharing and networking economy, according to industry analysts.

The optimistic view of Telstra’s position in the burgeoning Australian telecoms market comes from analyst firm Buddecomm in its latest report comparing the fortunes of the three major players in the telecommunications market – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

But, despite the positives about Telstra, the analyst firm says rival Optus has lost its sparkle, and has been “struggling, not only to keep pace with Telstra but also to keep up with the rapid developments in the telecoms industry”.  

According to Buddecomm analysts and authors of the report, Henry Lancaster and Phil Harpur, Telstra’s market share in some sectors, such as broadband, has been falling steadily since the highs that it held in the early 2000s, “though the company has retained its dominance in segments such as mobile voice and data”.

“Telstra invested heavily in network upgrades and was the first to launch mobile data services based on LTE. As such it was in a position to capitalise on being the first player in this market and could reap the advantages of network performance and reach to attract new customers.

“These advantages diminished in 2015 as Optus and Vodafone also launched LTE services, though Telstra retains a key lead in the provision of fixed-line broadband services in the less heavily urbanised areas.”

But, in a tick of approval for Telstra going forward, Lancaster and Harpur say Telstra has “embraced the new direction being taken by some of the more progressive players in the telecoms industry”.

“This is based on a ubiqui tous, robust, affordable infrastructure that can be used to lift telecommunications into the next stage. This is the brave new world of internet media, of the Internet of Things, where a range of new industry sectors including healthcare, education, energy, commerce and media will take centre-stage,” the analysts say.

The report notes that Telstra is also a leader in the industry with a focus on the “customer, innovation and new business opportunities”.

“It is not only financially strong, it is also well-positioned to increase its business in the emerging digital, sharing and networking economy.

“It is successfully transforming itself into a full services ICT company. Telstra’s mobile network in particular is, and will continue to be, well-positioned to offer superior services to those offered by the NBN company.”

But, the analysts’ give a less glowing and mixed report on Optus, noting that “life has been tough for Australia’s second largest telco in recent years”.

“The mobile sector clearly remains the company’s key market, although both its market share and ARPU are under pressure. Optus has kept up with Telstra, with both operators securing valuable spectrum in the 700MHz band. Next on the list is 5G. Optus is also committed to matching Telstra’s 98% population coverage with LTE by the end of 2016.

The analysts note that late this year, Optus was reported to start winning market share again in the mobile market and, they say, the new direction taken by the NBN, offering a second-rate multi-technology network rather than one based on FttH, “might offer the company new opportunities”.

In a positive note, the analysts highlight the fact that Optus’ parent Singtel has pledged to boost its investment in the telco to $1.8 billion over the next year to improve Optus's mobile network and increase its share in the fixed-line market.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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