Telstra will bleed $200 million this financial year thanks to the disappearance of international roaming fees

If a man climbs a mountian and doesn’t tell everyone about it, did he really do it?
  • Telstra announced its financial year results on Thursday, recording a 14.4% slide in profit to 30 June.
  • The telco attributed a $200 million loss to COVID-19, with the disappearance of international roaming fees being responsible for a large part of that.
  • It forecast a lack of those fees would wipe another $200 million from the business this year, representing 50% of the total anticipated COVID-19 losses.
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Australians might mourn the sudden suspension of international holidays, but spare a thought for the country’s largest telco.

With a departure stamp requiring formal approval from the Home Affairs Department for the foreseeable future, Telstra is getting ready to farewell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of international roaming charges.

Announcing its full financial year results on Thursday, Australia’s self-declared “leading telecommunications and information services company” laid bare the impact COVID-19 would have on its bottom line.

Over the coming 12 months, Telstra expects to bleed $400 million as a direct result of the pandemic. Of that amount, it is bracing for $200 million in roaming charges to dry up this financial year alone.

Interestingly, while the Treasury crunched the national economic numbers on the premise that borders would reopen on January 1, Telstra is under no such illusion.

CEO Andy Penn wrote that realistically “we have assumed no recovery in FY21” of international roaming, as the telco saw profit slide 14.4% for the year to $1.84 billion.

Even in the last three months, Telstra anticipates roaming to cost it big, rating it as one of several principal causes of another $200 million loss.

It’s no wonder when taking a look at the rates in some countries, where you can be charged $5 for every minute spent making or receiving a call. Meanwhile, at $3 per megabyte of data, updating your Instagram abroad quickly becomes an expensive flex.

“The enormous, ongoing disruption and pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made the past few months extraordinarily challenging for everyone,” Penn said.

No kidding. Kissing goodbye to the golden goose of telcos is never easy, but Telstra will come through it.

While its loss is ultimately the customer’s gain, both are equally keen to get overseas again – albeit for very different reasons.