Australian operator group Telstra reported increases in sales and profit for the six months to 31 December 2012 as network investment boosted the performance of its mobile business.

Mobile revenue in Australia grew 4.6 per cent year-on-year during the period to reach AUD4.56 billion as the company added 607,000 domestic mobile customers, ending 2012 on 14.4 million.

It also added 321,000 customers at its Hong Kong CSL business to hit 3.8 million international customers.

The company’s total income increased by 1.7 per cent year-on-year to AUD12.7 billion ($13.1 billion) with net profit up 8.8 per cent at AUD1.6 billion. A 14 cent per share interim dividend was announced, representing a AUD1.7 billion return to shareholders.

CEO David Thodey said the results show that the company is delivering on its commitments and is continuing to see customer growth in mobile in particular.

Telstra said the investment in its network — including upgrading to LTE — was an important factor in attracting new customers. Capital expenditure for the period was AUD1.9 billion — equivalent to 15 per cent of sales — and included significant spending on its Australian network.

Telstra’s 4G coverage is on track to reach 66 per cent of the Australian population by June and the company has now sold 1.5 million 4G devices.

The company also generated AUD671 million through the sale of New Zealand’s second-largest fixed operator TelstraClear to Vodafone during the period.

The company made AUD381 million in cost savings during the six month period through process improvement, effective credit management and further migration to inline services. The savings were reinvested into the business.

Looking to 2013, Thodey said: “We will continue to focus on improving customer satisfaction, growing customer numbers, simplifying the business and taking advantage of new growth opportunities. We are making good progress but there is more to do.”