Vodafone sticky, O2 happy

There were contrasting results from Vodafone and O2 when both companies told the Stock Market about their Key Performance indicators for the third quarter,

Vodafone reported that net subscriber additions in the quarter to 31 December increased 30% year on year to hit 7.1m, bringing the total subscriber base to 179.3m. The UK contributed 16.3m of that total, with over half a million new subscribers in the period.

Churn was up slightly in Q3 – 31.9% compared with 29.6% a year ago and blended ARPU slipped
4.3% year on year to £23.80 for the quarter.

Vodafone attributed changes in pricing “to improve competitiveness in the UK market”, a higher prepaid inactivity rate, and the affect of multiple devices within the corporate segment.

At least the news on 3G is good. Worldwide, Vodafone recorded 3.1m 3G additions in the quarter to bring its total 3G subscriber base to 8m; in the UK the total reached 725,000.

Chief Executive Arun Sarin was upbeat: “Vodafone has delivered a good operational performance in a challenging environment”.

Peter Erskine, chief executive of O2, could afford to be more bullish: “The UK and Germany smashed all previous records for customer growth … O2’s momentum continues and we look forward to taking our strong performance into Telefonica”. The size of his golden hello might have had something to do with his mood, but three months ended 31 Dec did see 1.75m new users for O2. That took the customer base to 27.4m, an 18% year on year increase.

O2 did particularly well in the tough UK market, maintaining its top place for subscriber numbers – in Q3 it added 895,000 net new customers in the region, 274,000 of them on contract. And churn rates are down too. Contract churn fell to 27% against 30% a year earlier; for prepay the customer churn fell to 29% from 37%. Blended ARPU for a full year was £3 down at £272.

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