Ireland’s largest mobile operator Vodafone this morning reported a 14pc year-on-year growth in contract subscribers and said 61pc of its customers are now using smartphones.
The operator said it maintained its total customer base of 2.4m at the end of March, out of which 2.1m are mobile customers. Vodafone’s fixed line customer base increased by 3.2pc year-on-year and 1.5pc in the last quarter to reach 256,600.
Average revenue per user (ARPU) was €29.90, up 7pc on Q4 last year.
The company in March announced a recruitment drive to hire 113 people in technology and networks, customer service, HR, finance, sales and marketing.
In the past 12 months, Vodafone says it saw a 14pc year-on-year growth in subscribers, adding 112,000 contracts, which it attributed to the success of its Red bill plan.
In terms of the operator’s 4G rollout, Vodafone completed the first phase in the south-east of the country in July 2013. The second phase of this upgrade programme began in the south-west, with sites being switched on from November 2013.
As a result, Vodafone introduced 4G services across six cities and 150 towns by the end of March.
The company also announced it had been allocated significant additional investment for Ireland as part of Vodafone Group’s organic Project Spring investment programme in network and operations across key European markets.
The mobile operator also opened its new Enterprise Customer Solutions division after investing €25m in expanding its capabilities in the fixed-line and telephony market.
Vodafone has also been selected by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to supply a managed high-speed fixed-data network to Government departments and public-sector agencies.
Globally, Vodafone reported group revenues had fallen by 1.9pc to stg£43.6bn. EBITDA was down 7.4pc to stg£12.8bn.
It cited a Europe-wide smartphone penetration of 45pc, up 7pc on last year.
“It has been a year of substantial strategic progress,” said Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao. “The sale of our Verizon Wireless stake has rewarded shareholders for their support, and enabled the acceleration of our strategy through the acquisition of KDG, the pending acquisition of Ono and our Project Spring investment programme.
“Our operational performance has been mixed. The group’s emerging markets businesses have performed strongly throughout the year: we have executed our strategy well and have successfully positioned ourselves for the rapid growth in data we are now witnessing.
“In Europe, where we continue to face competitive, regulatory and macroeconomic pressures, we have taken steps to improve our commercial performance, particularly in Germany and Italy, and are beginning to see encouraging early signs.
“I am confident about the future of the business given the growth prospects in data, emerging markets, enterprise and unified communications.
“We have commenced our Project Spring two-year investment programme, which will accelerate our plans to establish stronger network and service differentiation for our customers. I expect the first signs of this to become evident later this year, with wider 4G coverage in Europe and 3G coverage in emerging markets, improved network performance and increased customer advocacy,” Colao said.
Smartphone user image via Shutterstock