On Tuesday 15 October, we held our 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. During the meeting shareholders asked the Board about issues including our plans for the future, share price performance, dividends and executive remuneration. It also gave us an opportunity to update shareholders on our recent progress against our T22 strategy.

Telstra Corporation Chairman John Mullen spoke to our shareholders on the importance of last year’s progress on reshaping Telstra to lead in a rapidly changing competitive environment. “The past twelve months have been very significant year for our business, as we achieved important milestones to radically reshape our business under our T22 strategy.

“It was a year in which we completed our up to $3 billion investment program to create the networks we will need in the future and to completely digitise our business. And a year in which we passed the halfway mark in the migration of customers to the NBN. Significant progress has been made and our business today is already very different, much simpler and more customer-focused than we were a year ago.

“Our relentless focus means that we’re now in a better position to serve the modern telecommunications customer. We have reduced more than 1,800 Consumer and Small Business plans to just 20 core offers; we have done away with lock-in contracts on mobile plans, and we have eliminated excess data charges in Australia, just to name a few!”

Mr Mullen also spoke on the scope and scale of our T22 strategy, saying that the massive transformation happening across our business will set us up for the future. “It’s our belief that our T22 transformation is the most radical and ambitious program of work being undertaken by any telecommunications company in the world today. Our industry is fundamentally changing at an extraordinary pace and will never be the same again.

“Our industry today is exploding into a world of cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, big data, drones, satellite technologies, and more. The new-world impact of the NBN, for example, is ever-present in our business today.

“We estimate we have now absorbed around 50 per cent of the economic headwind NBN creates for us, or $1.7 billion on an annualised basis since FY16, with more than 60 per cent of Australian homes now connected.”

Despite the headwind of the NBN, Mr Mullen told shareholders at the AGM that our world-class mobile networks are a strong base for future growth. “Even as we bear these headwinds in our fixed-line business, our mobile network is going from strength to strength. Australia’s fixed-line industry is ranked 58th fastest in the world, while our nation’s mobile networks rank 2nd in the world after South Korea.

“Telstra operates the nation’s first 5G network, enabling extraordinary new developments and opportunities in new fields such as the IoT, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

“We continue to expand our network and our mobile coverage footprint now stretches out to more than 2.5 million square kilometres, vastly more than any other mobile network in Australia, and coverage extends to 99.5 per cent of the Australian population. Furthermore, we’re working closely with the Federal Government to connect more Australians than ever before thanks to the Mobile Black Spot Program.”

Mr Mullen also emphasised the scale of our business, the extensive scale of our networks and our central position in Australia’s economic engine.

“We’re vital to Australia’s growth. If you use an ATM, or you pay for something by EFTPOS, or book a taxi or an airline ticket, the chances are your bank or other organisation will be using Telstra to provide the service.

“Sixty-five million voice calls are made every day on our fixed and mobile networks and more than 33 petabytes of data is sent and received. Our submarine cables linking us to the outside world are long enough to encircle the planet 10 times. This complex array of technologies works exceptionally well and is exceptionally reliable.

“We’re proud of our century-long history connecting Australia. Thanks to our incredible team and yet another year of hard work, we’re well-positioned for the next 100 years already.”

You can read Telstra Chairman John Mullen’s full remarks from the 2019 Annual General Meeting here.