Vodafone drops below Orange and BT Cellnet

Stops fudging figures but still making more money

Vodafone has released its latest user figures and dropped from number one to number three on the UK. It now has 10.54 million users, compared to Orange's 11.9 million and BT Cellnet's 10.89 million. One2One has 7.6 million and Virgin 1.0 million.

How come? It has followed the rest of the industry's lead and posted figures only for "active users". In most cases that means people that have made a call in the last 90 days.

Vodafone's take on this is that user figures are irrelevant and only the revenue made from each subscriber is important. It's a fair point. It may have 1.3 million fewer users than Orange but if it makes £1 a month more from each one, it stands to be £10 million ahead.

Unfortunately for Vodafone however, it's average revenue per user has dropped recently (according to the FT from £14.80 in March to £14.15 in June). Despite this, Vodafone is still making more per user than its competitors.

Oftel's most recent report on the market (May 2001) put Vodafone top in terms of annual revenue per subscriber with £60.30. Orange comes second with the far lower £47.90, BT Cellnet third with £41.70 and One2One last with £39.70.

Also, average revenue has consistently dropped each quarter since 1999, mostly thanks to the large number of new users that don't use the phone as much. There is a slight caveat in that Oftel has been producing more accurate information each quarter but nevertheless several very clear trends can be seen.

More people now have mobiles. Average revenue per user is going down. Vodafone is making a damn sight more per user than its competitors. ®

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