Telstra chairman John Mullen said the telco’s performance has been a disappointment to investors and the board may use special measures to prevent the payout being cut again.

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, Mr Mullen did not shy away from Telstra’s less than impressive results in recent years which have been impacted by increased competition and the National Broadband Network.

“The board of Telstra is acutely aware that the level of earnings being delivered by Telstra, the dividend and share price are a disappointment to many investors, as indeed they are to us as well,” he said.

Mr Mullen said the NBN was “finally almost behind us”, and the acceleration of internet use during the pandemic had shown opportunities.

One of these was telehealth. He believed Telstra Health, which caters to the healthcare industry, would become a significant contributor to the telco’s success.

Mr Mullen also addressed concerns Telstra may cut its 16 cents per share dividend.

He said the board was prepared to forgo its principle of paying an ordinary dividend of 70 to 90 per cent of underlying earnings in order to maintain the payout.

He said this was not a guarantee.

Shares were higher by 2.34 per cent to $2.84 at 1155 AEDT.