UPDATED 11/7: Telstra’s new CEO, Andrew Penn, said in his first speech that the country’s mobile leader will invest an additional AUD500 million ($385 million) in its mobile network, bringing its planned mobile investment to more than AUD5 billion over the next three years.
Penn (pictured), who took the helm from David Thodey in May, said it will boost capex to 15 per cent of sales for the next two years, as it expands its 4G footprint to 99 per cent of the population.
As part of that investment, it will add 750 base stations, increasing its total to over 9,000 sites and deploy more than 750 small cells to provide in-fill in areas of low signal strength.
He noted that Telstra was awarded more than 80 per cent of the government’s black-spot programme and will build 429 3G/4G towers as well as install 250 4G data-only small cells in remote towns over the next three years.
Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event earlier this week on the topic of “Connecting with the future”, he referred to three key trends that are driving technological innovation. The first is the rapid move to mobile, which everyone is aware of.
The second is moving data off the premises to the cloud. He noted that the most complex aspect of the cloud is not running the data centre or the software. “It is not a complex IT problem in the conventional sense. It is getting the data in and out of the cloud at speed and securely through the network, which is a telecommunications challenge.”
He pointed to the recent acquisition of Pacnet, which will be a key strategic asset as Telstra provides critical network infrastructure to expand its cloud services in the region.
“Our cloud business has been growing at 20-30 per cent per annum over the last three years — with Pacnet we are very well placed to continue strong growth in the future as we expand into Asia.”
The third trend, and perhaps most significant area, he said is machine learning.
While people are all familiar with big data, which will accelerate with the rise of connected devices and the cloud, he said that the combination of these, with advancements in machine learning, is “taking us into the world of artificial intelligence and it is in this area that the rate of innovation is accelerating the fastest”.