Telstra is the largest telco in Australia, offering retail services such as mobile SIM plans, Internet plans, voice plans, Pay TV, and more. But Telstra is bigger than Australia – the giant telco has a presence in over 20 countries around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, China, and many more.
There’s a great chance you’ve already heard about Telstra, or perhaps you’re even a Telstra customer. But telcos are a lot more than the plans and services you purchase from them – knowledge of a telco’s background can keep you in the loop of what to expect from the quality of their services, especially customer support for when you might need it.
In this post, we’ll tell you all about Telstra’s history. We’ll also touch on the telco’s latest exploits and future, particularly its 5G rollout and sales of tower assets. Read on to find out.
Telstra was founded by the Australian government in 1975. The telco began as Telecom Australia, which later became Telstra in 1995 after merging with the Overseas Telecommunications Corporation. In 2006, Telstra floated on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The company has entered several acquisitions over the years, including Digicel Pacific, Neto, and Norstar Media. The Australian government began selling its shares in Telstra in 1997, and by 2011, the privatisation of the telco had been finalised. Today, Telstra is one of Australia’s biggest companies, and certainly its largest telco, selling a vast network of telecoms products and services, including broadband, fixed-line, mobile, and data services.
Here are some key facts to demonstrate just how big Telstra has become:
- According to Statista, Telstra recorded an annual revenue of over $25.5 billion in 2021.
- Telstra has more than 20 million retail services in Australia – 18.8 million mobile services, 3.8 million fixed bundles and data services, and 960,000 fixed standalone voice services – and more than 8 million International customers.
- Telstra has described its InfraCo Towers as being responsible for “250,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable, 370,000 kilometres of ducts, 8,200 mobile towers, masts and poles, 10,000 exchanges, two data centres, and access to 400,000 kilometres of subsea cables.”
Later in this article, we’ll take a deeper look at InfraCo Towers – Telstra’s future revenue generator.
As stated, you’ll find a ton of service and products being offered by Telstra, including broadband, fixed-line, mobile, and data plans. It also offers Pay TV, cloud services, cloud services integrated with fixed-line, and cloud services integrated with fixed-line and broadband.
For consumers, the most relevant of Telstra’s services today are their mobile plans. And with the ongoing 5G rollout, Telstra is committed to leading the way in that regard as well. The telco currently has the largest 5G reach in Australia amongst competitors Optus and Vodafone (TPG Telecom), covering over 75 percent of the population.
Here’s a brief look at Telstra’s 5G plans:
- Telstra mobile 5G plans
Telstra offers 5G on three of its four Upfront mobile plans, as well as one prepaid plan.
- 5G Home Internet plan:
Telstra also offers one 5G Home Internet plan, which averages 378Mbps download speeds, but ranges between 50Mbps and 600Mbps.
The future of Telstra is focused on 5G and asset sales. While we’ve covered the earlier, the latter addresses a very interesting topic.
While Telstra is widely known for its retail services, the telco made a recent pivot to selling its towers as well. This has emerged as part of Telstra’s T22 transformation strategy, which centers on simplifying operations and products, improving customer experience, and reducing costs. The telco giant has split itself into separate, almost independent divisions that fall under the Telstra Group umbrella – InfraCo Towers, InfraCo Fixed, ServeCo and Telstra International.
Most relevant to this article is InfraCo Towers, which holds all of Telstra’s physical mobile towers. The telco plans to sell off holdings in this division, and has already began down that path. Telstra’s Infraco Towers holdings were initially valued at $4.5 billion, but we recently reported that 49 percent of its holdings were sold for $2.8 billion to local consortium managed by Morrison & Co., making for a much higher valuation than initially reported.
Having worked in the Australian Telco industry for the last 15 years or so, often competing against Telstra, I can tell you that they are strategically brilliant. My read, from the outside, has always been that they have stocked the company with hoards of Australia’s best thinkers and engineers (and some who are both) and put them into business units which compete with each other.
Insiders tell me Telstra is a political environment and it has it’s difficulties. It is, however, clear from their share price performance, if nothing else, that the ideas and recommendations which flow from the teams they have at the top of the organisation are exceptionally good when implemented.
Telstra is into everything, including Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI and ML), Healthcare, Media products and licenses, and more. It’s a diverse and robust business. Let’s hope they’re around in Australia for another few generations.