Telco Company Profiles - 2nd Tier - Australia
Solid performances among operators auger well for the NBN age
Operators in this market reported steady revenue growth in fiscal 2014, reflecting an encouraging ongoing trend. The exception was AAPT, though this company has now been acquired by TPG and so a new era for the company may herald a change in its fortunes as it is able to utilise its assets in line with TPG’s wholesale services strategy. This acquisition showcased that in the market prepped for the NBN these players require size, geographic reach and a significant customer base among the lucrative government and business segments. This scale has enabled these 2nd tier players to weather aggressive competition from Telstra, which has itself firmed up its relationship with FOXTEL through a wholesale arrangement, enabling FOXTEL to provide broadband and voice services through Telstra’s infrastructure.
There are many transformations yet expected in the telecom sector in coming years as the market adjusts to the NBN. NBN Co, operating under a multi-technology platform rather than the FttP architecture originally envisaged, has shown a reinvigorated purpose in recent months which should see an escalation in the number of connected premises. Given these developments, many opportunities yet remain for the 2nd tier players, as TPG has shown with its commitment to fibre-enable up to half a million apartments within its existing footprint.
Amcom provides a range of services bases on fibre and DSL infrastructure. It also offers training services to the consumer, corporate, wholesale, government and SME markets. The Western Australia-based company has solid prospects for future growth, and remains a well-managed and focused business. Amcom has constructed over 2,000km of high-speed fibre optic networks in Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs and Adelaide. It has seven data centres in its own right, while its network connects to 71 centres in the capital cities. The network provides access to around 80% of business premises in these cities. The company in mid-2014 announced plans to make acquisitions on the East Coast to further develop its Cisco-based platform. The company has shown consistent revenue growth in recent years, while its strategy for future growth appears promising.
AAPT was acquired in 1999 by Telecom New Zealand as it made a $2 billion bid to break into the Australian market. The investment proved to be unsound for Telecom’s shareholders, and in recent years AATP’s financial performance has deteriorated. Its key retail division was sold to iiNet in 2010, while its remaining business and wholesale interests were sold TPG in early 2014. Though owned by TPG, AAPT remains a separate business and manages a substantial interstate network including 11,000km of fibre, its own data centres in major capital cities, fibre and Ethernet infrastructure. It is also a partner with NBN Co. The company has undergone significant management changes as it struggles to revitalise its financial position, which will help TPG better absorb the company’s assets and manage its strategic position in a fast-changing market.
iiNet has developed into one of the largest DSL providers in Australia. The company delivers a wide range of telecom services including fixed-voice, mobile and broadband, business data housing and cloud-based services, VoIP and IPTV. The company manages a significant DSL and FttP network. During the last few years iiNet has expanded through a strategic program of acquisitions, which has consolidated its strengthening market position in the business broadband and mobile voice and data sectors. In March 2014 the founder of iiNet, Michael Malone, stepped down as both CEO and chairman of the company after more than twenty years at the helm. The company will enter a new phase of development with a new CEO. The company’s financials have been solid for a number of years, while growth at 7% for FY2014 enabled to company to broach $1 billion in revenue for the first time.
Established in 1992, Macquarie Telecom was one of the first telcos of the deregulated era. Its two key target markets are Australian mid-size corporates and the government sector. The Hosting business continues to be a key growth platform. With a third data centre operational in mid-2013, the company has bolstered its hosting and cloud-based services, which remain the main focus of its strategy for growth.
TPG Telecom provides a range of telecom services and also owns a cloud-hosting company and the PIPE network infrastructure. The company is delivering an extensive FttB service to apartment buildings in capital cities. In late 2014 these plans were approved by the AAAC, which determined that the FttB networks would not go against the level playing field provisions within the Telecommunications Act. TPG has also secured spectrum in the 2.5GHz band to bolster its wireless broadband capabilities, and has committed to investing in additional capacity with a subsea cable linking to New Zealand and the US West Coast. TPG’s capabilities and reach were enhanced following its $450 million acquisition of AAPT’s wholesale and business services from Telecom New Zealand, completed in February 2014.
Nextgen specialises in data services for carriers, service providers, government and corporations. It owns and operates one of Australia’s largest national fibre networks, of over 19,000km of fibre rings, as well a data centres in all capital cities. Nextgen has rolled out around 6,000km of a fibre backhaul link to Darwin, which it manages on behalf of NBN Co as part of the Regional Backbone Blackspots Program. The Perth-Singapore submarine cable, being managed by Nextgen’s subsidiary ASC International, secured landing permits in early 2014, so enabling the operator to proceed with the construction phase.
FOXTEL is the largest subscription TV (STV) provider in Australia, offering over 200 viewing channels. National coverage was secured in 2012 following the company’s acquisition of AUSTAR. Company ownership is equally divided between Telstra and News Corporation. More than 2.6 million homes had an STV service from FOXTEL in mid-2014, showing a 5.6% growth in subscriber numbers year-on-year. The company hopes to expand its services with a triple-play bundle of TV, broadband and telephony service during the first quarter of 2015, with the latter two services resulting from a wholesale agreement with Telstra.
M2 has shown consistent growth since the mid-2000s, both through organic growth and strategic acquisitions. In 2009 it acquired People Telecom and the business assets of Commander Communications, both at bargain prices. In 2010 the company completed the acquisition of selected business assets of Clever Communications and Bell Networks, while in 2011 it purchased Clear Telecoms and later the subscribers and assets of AUSTAR Mobile from the pay TV satellite provider. In 2012 the assets of Primus Telecommunications were acquired adding further to its subscriber base. Further acquisitions in 2013 brought in Dodo and Eftel under the M2 umbrella. M2 has since declared that it may invest further in the energy sector, taking advantage of deregulated markets and the low customer acquisition cost advantages held by Dodo Energy.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year