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Virgin Mobile - the joint venture between Virgin Group and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile - reckons it's the DeeBees (dog's b******s) after signing up more than a quarter of a million new punters in the first three months of the year.

That brings its total customer base in the UK to more than 2.6m punters who, between them, helped Virgin Mobile generate more than £1m a day in revenues.

Virgin Mobile is so confident about its appeal to the yoof market it reckons it will crack the three million mark somewhen later this year. And it also anticipates that revenue will jump to around £400m in 2003 - up from £288m in 2002.

Last year Virgin Mobile - which has around 5 per pent of the UK's mobile market - made an operating profit of £5 million and posted EBITDA earnings of £16m.

Publishing figures today Virgin reported that turnover for Q1 2003 was £94.5m - up from £57.9m a year ago. But despite the much-bragged about growth in punters on the previous quarter, turnover was only up 2.5 per cent compared to Q4 2002.

In a statement Virgin Mobile's boss, Sir Richard Branson said: "Not only is Virgin Mobile going great guns as a network in its own right, we are also a major contributor to our network partner T-Mobile's UK customer base. I believe that we now account for more than 20 per cent of their total network base, and contribute approximately 25 per cent of SMS traffic on the network, which is a reflection of how appealing the Virgin Mobile brand is to Britain's youth."

Speaking of T-Mobile, in March Virgin and its business partner fell out over a dispute concerning charges. ®

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