Australia’s largest mobile operator Telstra plans to cut 1,400 jobs over the next six months as part of a drive to streamline operations as it faces pressure on earnings due to increased competition, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.

The operator said it needs to be “leaner” as the country’s national broadband network (NBN) service expands and aggressive new players offer consumers additional service options.

Telstra is looking at an AUD2 billion ($1.5 billion) to AUD3 billion reduction in its annual earnings by 2020 due to lost compensation payments and the access fees it will pay to use the NBN, SMH said.

The operator, with a 51 per cent share of the country’s mobile connections, also plans to invest AUD3 billion to upgrade its network over the next three years.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the company “cannot afford to operate as we have always done”.

About 90 per cent of the cuts will be in New South Wales and Victoria, with 172 employees to be let go in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland combined, Telstra representative Jon Court told SMH.

Court said the cuts will impact most parts of the company, including Telstra’s retail, operations, government enterprises and services and, to a smaller extent, its media and marketing sectors.

The newspaper said unions described the cuts as an “ambush” on workers. The Communication Workers Union said it would meet with Telstra this week.