Andrew Jackson (contributor)

It’s been a good start to the financial year for Telstra, with half yearly results placing the telco giant on track to meet forecasted end-of-financial-year targets.

Half-yearly results, released today, indicate that total income for Telstra has increased by 4.1 per cent to $12.8 billion, compared to $12.3 billion in 1H13. Net profit after tax has also shown steady growth, rising to $1.7 billion: a growth of 9.7 per cent. This strong first half has led to Telstra increasing its dividend for the first time in 8 years, raising the amount to 14.5 cents per share.

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Welcome news to shareholders and employees alike, Telstra owes its healthy first half to increased focus on investment in their core and growth businesses. Of particular highlight has been the customer-focused mobile retail sector, according to chief executive officer David Thodey.

“Our customer focus has led to continued mobile growth and an increase in mobile services revenue of 7.3 per cent,” Thodey said. “We continued to invest in maintaining our network leadership, highlighted by our $650 million capital investment in mobiles infrastructure in the half.”

Network leadership has certainly been a continuing target for Telstra, and a major drawcard for potential customers. The Telco reported that 85 per cent of the Australian population now lives in zones covered by their high-speed 4G mobile data service. The wide coverage has seen an additional 730,000 retail mobile customers join the fold this half, bringing their total base up to 15.8 million domestic mobile customers.

The bolstering of their already widespread 4G service has additionally been in reaction to the growing penetration of stand-alone 4G capable devices, including dongles, Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile-data enabled tablets (each of these categories selling roughly 400,000 units).

Both postpaid and prepaid mobile users are up this half for Telstra, with mobile customers generating just under $4.9 million in revenue, an increase of 6.4 per cent over this time last year. Pressure from the mobile phone market has seen the fixed voice (or landline) market continue to crumble. Telstra reports 117,000 customers abandoning their landlines during this period.

Telstra has also seen growth in subscription bundle plans as consumers focus on value during uncertain economic times. The inclusion of Foxtel access in bundle plans, the most popular of these being the Foxtel Entertainer package (a collection of popular ‘entry-level’ television channels), has added an extra 117,000 customers in the half.

Thodey identified customer relations as the reason for Telstra’s success this half.

“Our customers remain our highest priority and our focus during the past six months has been to continue to improve the way we interact with them every day,” he said.

“Customers want simplicity, so getting our processes right is critical. Telstra is well recognised for its network and product leadership. We are just as committed to begin known for first class customer service.”

“If we can deliver on both fronts we will drive value for our customers and our shareholders.”