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UK mobile outfit mmO2 has more than 20 million punters after signing up 855,000 new customers in the last three months of 2003.

Publishing Q3 trading figures today, the former mobile division of BT reported that 430,000 of those new customers originated in the UK. Of those, 145,000 are contract users, while the rest are pay-as-you-go.

Either way, it takes the number of O2 customers in the UK to a smidgen over 13 million.

As well as increasing numbers, O2 also reported that its punters are spending more too, with ARPU (average revenue per user) up to £264, compared to £259 in the previous quarter.

In Germany, O2 added an extra 335,000 new customers taking its customer base there to 5.6 million.

While in Ireland O2 now has 1.4 million users, after adding 96,000 new punters in Q3.

Said boss Peter Erskine in a statement: "Following this strong third quarter performance, all our businesses remain on track to deliver our full-year growth and margin targets."

Shares in MMO2 were up 3.5p (4.23 per cent) at 86.25p by mid afternoon.

Last week Vodafone reported that it had signed up more than 4.3 million new punters in the run-up to Christmas, taking its total customer base to more than 130 million users.

And Virgin Mobile reported that it had signed up more than half a million new customers at the end of last year, making it the most successful three months ever for the mobile telco. ®

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