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Optus boss Allen Lew has pointed to uptick in the telcos customer base as a sign that its

$189 million bet on the English Premier League is starting to pay dividends in a tight mobile

While the telco has posted another drop in earnings and net profit for the quarter ending -
December 31, Mr Allen said the overall health of Optuss consumer business was robust and
that it would aggressively beef up its network this year.

The telco added 153,000 mobile customers in a quarter where its numbers were still being
affected by the reduction of industry mobile termination rates mandated by the Australian
Competition & Consumer Commission and higher costs associated with device repayment

Once you strip away the one-off costs, the bulk of our business is doing well and, with more
than 9.5 million customers, there has been strong growth in both the prepaid and postpaid
mobile base, Mr Lew told The Australian.

Australias second-biggest telco posted a 5 per cent drop in its earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation for the quarter to December 31, from $685m in the same period
last year to $650m.

Net profit for the quarter was down 17.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis, from $227m to
$188m, and operating revenue for the quarter declined 9.3 per cent.

Optus kicked off its EPL coverage in August and, while the service was widely criticised
initially, Mr Lew said a lot of the problems had been remedied and the telco was looking to
add non-sports content to its offering.

We have worked out a lot of the issues and a lot of the processes have now been bedded
down, Mr Lew said. We have the EPL, we will also have the Confederations Cup and this
year we will go beyond sports.

Optus extended its 4G footprint to 95.9 per cent of Australians during the quarter and Mr Lew
said continued investment in networks was crucial to maximising the potential of its content

The telco is keen to go toe to toe with its rivals in the upcoming auction of the remaining
blocks of 700-megahertz spectrum.

With Telstra barred from participating in the process, Optus will be squaring off against
Vodafone Australia and TPG Telecom for the valuable asset.

I can tell you we will be on the front foot with this auction given how important the low-
band spectrum is for us, Mr lew said. With our continued commitment to investing in
regional areas, which has been boosted by the recent Mobile Black Spots Funding
announcement, we are expecting to make further network improvements in 2017 and

Optus and Vodafone are also locked in a tussle over the issue of mobile roaming and, with the
regulator set to deliver its final verdict next month, Mr Lew said Optus was committed to
pumping money into its network rather than looking to jump on Telstras regional

Having end-to-end control of the network is very important for us, especially for reliability
and redundancy, which is something that should not be ignored given some of the
experiences from last year, he said. Sharing involves too many hand-offs and I think if you
really want to be a full service provider in Australia you have to invest your own money.

Optus is set to invest $155m in mobile network infrastructure in regional areas during this
year and Mr Lew said the telco was also gearing up for the transition from 4G to 5G mobile

We have the right network assets in place and its really about tying up a partnership with
the right equipment vendor.