Telstra CEO David Thodey announced in a retail shareholder’s meeting in Sydney recently that the company is studying options over the expansion of its voice-over-IP (VoIP) offering beyond small businesses to consumers very soon, and even eyeing VoIP services on mobile.
Last May 2011, Telstra began an immense quality of service (QoS) upgrade to its 1600 exchanges across the country ahead of the launch of their Digital Business package to business customers, including VoIP services.
At that time, Thodey stated that Telstra was not yet ready to offer a VoIP product to customers, similar to its rivals iiNet and Internode, because VoIP was not to the level of "quality or reliability" that the company’s standards demand.
Currently, however, Thodey confessed that he himself uses VoIP "sometimes," and that Telstra will very soon expand their packages beyond just business customers.
"We will be providing our key services to a broader consumer base. We’ve just got to pick the right timing for that, because it is just balancing the market trends and then just how our company will be responding to it," he said. "There will also be a VoIP service on the mobile phone at some point in the future as well." Thodey added that Telstra has to guarantee that it gets the pricing right.
"Now the charging model is what we are working on at the moment, and we will come out with that in the next six months or so." While much of the retail shareholders meeting focused on customer service and individual shareholder issues, chief financial officer Andy Penn was also questioned briefly on whether Telstra would ever buy back shares. Penn said to the shareholders that for now, the company is choosing to invest half a billion dollars in its long-term evolution (LTE) 4G network.
"At the moment, our first decision has been to invest half a billion in extending our LTE network," he stated. "Building on that when we can afford to do that is the right business opportunity." However, Penn admitted that a buy back is possible.
"The short answer is that it is definitely an option available to us. Over the longer term, what is most vital to our shareholders is paying a fully franked dividend of at least 28 cents."