Meteor parent firm’s losses narrow

14 Feb 2003

Latest quarterly losses at mobile operator Meteor’s parent company Western Wireless International (WWI) have narrowed to US$23.4m from a loss of US$40m a year earlier.

WWI, which has an 80pc stake in the mobile operator, is the overseas arm of Western Wireless, which provides telecommunications services to much of rural America. The parent company saw revenues from domestic US operations rise 32pc to US$97.1m. WWI itself reported a 44pc increase in revenues of US$83.7m.

For the year, total revenue was US$302.9m, up 143pc from 2001. Consolidated earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the year declined to US$58.7m, reduced from US$114.8m in 2001.

WWI’s six consolidated businesses, including Meteor, added 115,500 customers during the quarter, bringing total consolidated customers to 741,300.

Ireland has some 118,00 customers, contrasting with O2 and Vodafone, which collectively control some 96pc of the Irish market. A spokesman declined to comment on the performance of Meteor in Ireland.

Held up by legal rows over the awarding of its GSM licence, Meteor missed out on the watershed years of 1999 and 2000 that saw the Irish mobile market reach its present 79pc population penetration. The company has since struggled to ratchet up its subscriber base, despite introducing innovative call and SMS pricing options for its largely prepaid customers.

By John Kennedy