Number of smartphone users grew 44pc, Telefónica O2 says

25 Feb 2011

Telefónica O2 Ireland reported that during 2010, its post-pay customer base grew 38,000 or 5.4pc year-on-year. Mobile broadband subscribers increased to 164,000 at the end of the fourth quarter, up 29pc on the previous year.

The company said the number of Telefónica O2 Ireland customers using smartphones increased 44pc year-on-year to the end of December.

Data traffic on O2’s network grew 53pc in Q4 compared with the previous year.

O2 also announced it has completed the first phase in its rollout of a new high-speed mobile broadband (HSPA+) network offering with speeds of up to 21Mpb which is now live in key urban centres, including Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Sligo.

To date, O2 has invested more than €1bn in its network in Ireland.

O2’s total mobile customer base at the end of December 2010 was 1.696m, down from 1.714m for the same period in 2009.

Service revenue for Q4 is €191m (down from €198m in Q3 and down from €207m for the same period last year).

Monthly average blended ARPU for the 12 months of 2010 was €37.0, down from €39.6 for the same period in 2009. Monthly average ARPU for prepay customers for 12 months of 2010 was €24.3, down from €25.5 for the same period last year, while for post-pay customers it was €54.7 down from €62.0.

Average monthly minutes of use in the quarter was 237.7, up from 229.8 for the same period last year.

During 2010, a total of 3.343bn texts were sent by O2 customers – prepay and post-pay (up from 3.150bn in the same period last year), while 4.732bn voice minutes were used (up from 4.672bn in the same period last year).

A difficult year

“(The year) 2010 was a very difficult year for the telecommunications industry, with the Irish economy still struggling to recover,” explained Paul Whelan, chief financial officer, Telefónica O2 Ireland.

“Competition in the sector also increased significantly. In response to the low levels of consumer and business confidence throughout the year, O2 continued to offer better value for money across our products and services. So while our customers used more of our services – with minutes of usage, texts messages sent and data usage all increasing – they spent less.

“Looking to the year ahead, there are significant growth opportunities in data, as evidenced by the continued uptake of smartphones and mobile broadband. We also see opportunities in adjacent services, and last week announced our expansion into the financial services market with the launch of a new prepay money card, ‘O2 Money’.

“This first financial services product from O2 marks the start of the convergence of the mobile phone and the wallet, and firmly positions O2 at the forefront of this trend in Ireland,” Whelan said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years