In its Q4 key performance indicators, O2 said today it is now the number one post-pay operator in Ireland. The company also said customer behaviours are changing, with consumers substituting text messaging for voice calls.
O2 said it increased its post-pay customer base in Q4, adding 15,400 new customers to achieve a total post-pay customer base of 691,765 at the end of 2009, its highest ever level. Overall, the post-pay base grew by almost 49,000 customers in 2009.
Data revenue as a percentage of overall service revenue grew year on year, driven by growth in non-SMS revenues which account for 11.7pc of overall service revenues in Q4, up from 8.2pc for the same period in 2008.
A key driver of this growth is mobile broadband, with customer numbers at more than 133,000 to date.
The iPhone also continues to be very popular, with sales outperforming all other smart-phone devices in O2’s range.
Text messages overtake voice minutes
Reflecting changing consumer behaviour, including greater use of text messages instead of voice minutes, text messaging continued to perform well in Q4, with 835 million text messages sent in the quarter, up from 783 million in Q3, and up by a significant 19.4pc from 699 million in Q4 2008.
In total, more than 3.1 billion text messages were sent by O2 customers in 2009, while 4.6 billion voice minutes were used.
Data revenue as a percentage of overall service revenue grew year on year, driven by growth in non-SMS revenues which account for 11.7pc of overall service revenues in Q4, up from 8.2pc for the same period last year.
A key driver of this growth was mobile broadband, with customer numbers at more than 133,000 to date.
Service revenue for the quarter is €207.3 million, down 2.7pc from €213.2 million in Q3.
Monthly average blended ARPU for the quarter was €39.46, down from €39.90 in Q3 and down from €42.55 for the same period last year, reflecting the added value O2 is offering customers on the cost of calls and packages.
For the quarter, monthly average ARPU for post-pay customers was €58.85, down from €62.11 in Q3 and down from €69.17 for the same period last year. Monthly average ARPU for prepay customers was €26.49, up from €25.77 in Q3, but down slightly from €26.73 for the same period last year.
Average monthly minutes of use in the quarter was 230, up from Q3 (226) but down when compared with the same period last year to 243.
“In common with many other businesses operating in the Irish market, trading conditions continue to be challenging, with limited signs of any underlying improvement at this early stage in 2010,” Paul Whelan, chief financial officer, Telefónica O2 Ireland explained.
“Customers also continue to change how they use our services, with many optimising their usage either by staying within their bundle allowance or substituting text messaging for voice services.
“During the quarter, there has been continued growth in data services, driven by the ongoing substitution by customers of mobile broadband for fixed services, and the popularity of market-leading devices such as the iPhone.
“As a result, for the third quarter in a row, O2 maintained its position as the leading operator in the post-pay mobile market in Ireland”.
By John Kennedy
Photo: The iPhone 3G