Introduction of the Apple 3G iPhone cut more than $44 million from the earnings of Australian carrier Optus in the September quarter, parent company SingTel revealed yesterday.

The loss is due to the higher subsidy costs demanded by Apple for the 3G smartphone, SingTel said, explaining that its policy is to expense mobile subscriber acquisition and retention costs immediately on activations

The Optus parent says it still reckons that it will do well from the iPhone, as subscribers deliver ARPU (average revenue per user) about 1.5 times higher than other users.

“Both SingTel and Optus require iPhone 3G postpaid activations to a minimum contract period (12 or 24 months, depending on plan types) and over this contract period, iPhone subscribers will deliver positive value,” SingTel said in its statement to the Singapore and Sydney stock exchanges.

SingTel revealed it had activated 170,000 iPhones in Australia, Singapore, India and the Philippines between the Australian launch on July 11 and September 20 (it did not break this down to reveal the number of Australian activations).

In Australia, approximately 55 percent of the total activations were mobile customers new to Optus. The SingTel group will announce September quarterly results on November 12.

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