Vodafone vows to fight ComReg decision

26 Jan 2005

Ireland’s largest mobile network has reiterated that it will strenuously resist the Commission for Communications Regulation’s (ComReg) efforts to bring more competition into the mobile market by forcing Vodafone and O2 to open up their networks for use by new entrants.

Vodafone strategy director Gerry Fahy said: “It is clear that competitive pressures have never been as intense in the Irish marketplace as they are now. We have called on ComReg to change its position on wholesale access and origination and unless it does so, we will use every avenue open to us to appeal the decision.”

The statement was included this morning in the latest performance statistics from the mobile giant, which showed that Vodafone Ireland’s revenue yield per customer has increased yet again.

In the three-month period to 31 December 2004, the mobile firm’s subscriber base rose by 39,000 to 1.93 million. Average revenue per user (ARPU) across prepay and postpay segments — so-called blended ARPU —
increased from €596 to €602. ARPU for prepay customers increased from €366 to €370 while post-pay ARPU also rose from €1,170 to €1,186 during the period.

The company said that strong uptake of innovative products and services, competitive pricing structures and growing demand for voice services were driving the growth.

The company also stuck to its long-held defence that high APRU figures were mainly attributable to Ireland’s unique usage behaviour.

“Ireland continues to have the highest levels of outgoing voice usage per customer in the group’s controlled mobile businesses, driving positive ARPU performance,” the statement read.

As the only network to have launched 3G services in the Irish market, Vodafone reported that uptake of 3G handsets had “exceeded initial targets”. It was also confident that 3G would grow steadily during the year as Vodafone introduced new products and continued to invest heavily in network rollout.

Commenting on Vodafone Ireland’s results, Fahy hinted that the company was bracing itself for impending arrival of 3G licence holder 3 into the marketplace. “With a new aggressive competitor anticipated to enter the Irish market this year, we will continue to deliver value, the highest quality services and customer care and differentiated voice and data offerings. Our latest offering of six cent text messages reflects our ongoing commitment to delivering value in the Irish marketplace.”

Vodafone’s Irish performance mirrored that of the international business during the same period, where the company reported strongest quarter of subscriber growth since December 2000. More than 5.4 million new customers were added, bringing the total customer base to 151.8 million. The Vodafone Live! Subscriber base rose by 3.9 million to 28.3 million, including 12.9 million in Japan. A satisfied CEO Arun Sarin noted that the company’s performance was “in line with expectations”.

By Brian Skelly