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ARPUs up

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mm02, the UK's smallest mobile network operator, had a good Q3 on the subscriber front, gaining 791,000 customers in the three months to December 31, 2002.

This is an increase of 4.3 per cent, taking subscribers to 19.1 million. Admittedly, many were pretty low-rent in the UK, where the lion's share of the growth came from. Of the 503,000 net new customers, 114,000 signed up for contracts.

Subscriber growth for O2 Germany was more muted, with 286,000 customers, but 74 per cent were contract. The company says that good retail propositions, rather than expensive handset subsidies, are to thank for the rise.

ARPU - average revenues per user - are up in all four O2 territories. There are some significant differences between the countries

  • UK: £243 (+5.2% year-to-date)
  • Germany: £212 (+8.7%)
  • Ireland: £341 (+3.6%)
  • Netherlands: £173 (+6.1%)

So how come the Irish spend so much? They can't all have kissed the Blarney Stone, can they? Maybe there are fewer pre-pay customers as a proportion of subscribers, but Irish pre-pays spend more money, averaging £17 per month, compared with £9 shelled out by their UK counterparts.

Mobile data as a percentage of group service revenues climbed to 17.7 per cent in the quarter, up from 15.6 per cent in the previous quarter. The bulk of revenues comes from SMS - O2 reports that half a billion text messages were sent by its punters during December with almost 28m messages delivered on New Year's Day.

The mobile operator claims that this is the largest volume of person-to-person messages ever handled by a UK operator in a single month.

O2 notes that it now has more than 200,000 active GPRS subscribers and 100,000 subscribers of Java games and MMS, launched in August and October respectively.

By mid-morning shares in mmO2 were down 0.25p (0.5 per cent) at 48.5p. ®

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