Australia's second biggest mobile service operator Optus today confirmed it raised the prices of Apple and Samsung smartphones for new customers on post-paid plans over the last week, as it struggles with shrinking customer numbers.
Fairfax Media reported that Goldman Sachs analyst Raymond Tong found Optus now subsidises iPhones by about $200 less, in the case of a 32GB iPhone for example, than it did in April 2010.
It means a new post-paid Optus customer pays $696 towards the handset over the course of a $50-a-month contract, compared with around $200 less about four years ago.
The research was confirmed today when an Optus spokesperson confirmed the details to media.
''Optus has cut handset subsidies across its post-paid mobile plans [and] raised handset pricing in the past week,'' Tong said.
"While Optus has stated its desire to stabilise/increase its market share, these moves are consistent with its goal of driving profitable growth.
Tong said the handset subsidy cuts follow similar moves by rival telco Vodafone earlier this year, and Telstra may respond through boosting its own handset prices.
''[Telstra] may see this as an opportunity to raise handset pricing through its own subsidy cuts,'' he said. ''[Optus' price increase] is another sign mobile industry pricing and competition remains rational [and that the] focus remains on driving profitability.''
Optus lost more than 134,000 customers over the year to December 31, 2013.