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Optus ditches the animals and changes phone plans in rebranding

David Ramli (via AFR) | June 26, 2013
Optus has replaced its animal mascots with “Ollie”.

Optus ditches the animals and changes phone plans in rebranding
Optus has replaced its animal mascots with “Ollie”.

SingTel Optus will offer phone plans with lower excess charges from July 1, expecting it will hit revenue in the "short term".

Optus will launch simpler plans that aim to reduce bill-shock, giving customers more warning to stop them hitting their monthly limits. It will also offer cheaper penalty rates if the limits are breached, although the plans are being criticised for reducing download allowances.

The telecommunications company, has phased out the use of wildlife in its advertising in the past few months. It will instead adopt a new mascot tagged "Ollie".

Speaking to journalists in Sydney on Tuesday, Optus managing director for customers Vicki Brady admitted the plan changes would lead to lower revenue for a while.

If an Optus customer on the current $60 a month plan exceeded their cap by making 800 minutes worth of calls and downloading two gigabytes of data on their smartphones, they would pay $338 extra that month. Under the new system the same usage would cost customers $20 extra a month.

"We have planned for a significant impact on our revenue on excess charges," she said.

"We want to move to having loyal customers who want to stay with us in the long run.

"It'll obviously have a [negative] impact on average revenues per user in the short term."

But critics have pointed out the new plans will also cut the monthly data allowance provided as part of a plan.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network spokesman Asher Moses said it was the latest in a series of allowance cuts made by Australia's second-biggest mobile provider.

"We're disappointed the new plans don't come with more included data given the booming rates of data consumption," Mr Moses said. "Virgin for instance offers 3Gb of data for around the same price as the Optus 1Gb plans.

"According to ACMA, mobile data usage nearly doubled in 2011-12 and this trend is expected to continue."

One telecommunications analyst who declined to be named said the new plans reflected the telco's attempts to boost profitability rather than revenue.

"They're taking costs out and they're trying to be more rational in their plans," they said. "It's hard to beat Telstra, the incumbent, as a second challenger when you don't have the scale and they're spending $1.2 billion per year."

Optus has embarked on a large cost-cutting drive under its chief executive Kevin Russell. In May it confirmed plans first mentioned by The Australian Financial Review to shed 750 jobs.


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