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[SYDNEY] Australian telecommunication giant Telstra on Thursday reported a bumper 21.7 per cent jump in first-half net profit on the back of strong mobile revenue with expansion in Asia to drive future earnings.
The country's dominant telecom said profit in the six months to December 31 came in at A$2.1 billion (US$1.6 billion), compared to A$1.7 billion in the previous corresponding period.
Total revenue rose 1.6 per cent to A$13.0 billion, with interim dividends up by half a cent to 15 cents - equating to a A$1.8 billion return to shareholders.
Its mobile business continued to boom with an extra 366,000 customers added during the reporting period, and revenue jumping 9.6 per cent to A$5.3 billion.
But the fixed line business continued to decline with earnings down 1.7 per cent to A$3.5 billion.
Chief executive David Thodey said Telstra's strategy of improving customer service was paying off, driving value from its core business.
"Our customers remain our highest priority," he said.
"We are committed to improving the way we interact with our customers every day, providing more personalised service as well as being more responsive to their needs by keeping them informed, delivering new products and services as well as offering better value." The cashed-up company in December agreed to buy Pacnet, Asia's biggest private owner of submarine communication cables, for US$697 million in one of its largest acquisitions to date.
Mr Thodey said investing in new businesses and growing telecommunications services in Asia was essential for Telstra's ambitions.
"I am pleased to see the expansion of our international networks through the acquisition of Pacnet," he said.
"Once completed, this acquisition will increase the scale and capability of our fixed infrastructure, our network density and our reach across the Asia-Pacific region, as well as our customer base and our capability." Telstra also last year bought Ooyala, a leader in video streaming with a platform that enables websites to publish, manage, monetise, and analyse online video content.
"Through Ooyala we aim to establish a leading global company to deliver platforms and services on which the next generation of TV and video will be built," said Mr Thodey.
He added that Telstra was on track to meet full-year guidance of low single digit earnings growth, excluding the impact of the sale of its stake in Hong Kong mobile business CSL in 2014.