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O2 Ireland has seen customer numbers fall by nearly 20,000 over recent months. and has recorded a EUR58 fall in its blended Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) figures.

The mobile operator's parent company mmO2 released figures on Thursday that showed that its Irish operation had 1.161 million customers up to the end of June 2002. This compared with 1.180 million at 31 March 2002.

This drop was largely due to the loss of 22,000 users of its pre-pay offerings during the three-month period. Pre-pay customers totalled 824,000 at the end of March, but this figure had fallen to 802,000 by 30 June. Post-pay user numbers increased, but only by 3,000 to 359,000. MmO2 also said that churn was slightly lower during its latest quarter.

In terms of average revenue per user (ARPU), figure closely watched by industry analysts, 12-month rolling blended ARPU was EUR537 at the end of June, which was down from EUR595 for the same period a year previously. Pre-pay ARPU for the Irish operation at the end of June 2002 was EUR329, which compared with EUR348 at the same time in 2001. Additionally, the equivalent post-pay figure was EUR1,002 at the end of June 2002, which was down from EUR1,025 in 2001.

Quarter-on-quarter, blended ARPU was up by EUR4, and was also up in the pre-pay sector by EUR10. MmO2 said this was due to an increase in voice minutes, compared to the previous quarter, as well as strong SMS usage, including premium rate services.

The figures also showed that revenues from data services, such as SMS and WAP browsing, as a percentage of service revenues increased for O2 in Ireland in the last year. In June 2001 it accounted for 7.8 percent of revenues, but this was up to 11.7 percent by the end of June 2002. The firm said that SMS messaging continued to grow from 134 million during the three months to June 2001 to 214 million at the end of the most recent quarter. It also grew by 4.7 percent quarter-by-quarter.

A spokesperson for mmO2 told ElectricNews.Net that the company was pleased with the figures from Ireland. "Ireland has proven to be an excellent market for us because it has exceptionally high ARPU, and high voice and data usage," said the spokesperson. On the question of falling customer figures, the spokesperson said that the trend across the sector was for user numbers to drop slightly, particularly in the pre-pay area. The spokesperson added that mmO2 was concentrating more on the value of its customer base, than on its actual size.

Overall, mmO2, which also owns mobile networks in Ireland, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, said that it added 292,000 customers in the quarter, 86 percent of which were contract customers. Revenue share from mobile data also increased from 9 percent of total revenues in the last quarter to 14.6 percent in its latest. mmO2 carried 1.768 billion text messages during the quarter and around 650 million WAP page impressions.

The firm went on to say that it is adding 10,000 GPRS customers per month with the total currently standing at more than 70,000. In addition, O2 now has over 420 corporate customers for the BlackBerry mobile e-mail solution and it has sold over 8,000 of the devices. © ENN

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