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Orange hits 50m subscriber mark

'Strong first quarter'

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Orange now has more than 50m customers, reaching this milestone in a "strong first quarter".

The France Telecom-owned mobile network operator added 1.2m subscribers in the quarter, and reports growing average revenue per user (ARPU) growth in its key markets, France and the UK. It attributes this to a better customer mix, in other words, fewer cheapskate pay-as-you-go punters. Also data revenues are flowing through, with non-voice revenues accounting for 14.7 per cent of Orange network sales in the quarter (Q1 2003: 12.6 per cent).

Group Q1 revenues were up 12.1 per cent on a pro-forma basis to €4.678bn (from €4.172bn pro-forma in Q1 2003) and up 9.9 per cent on a reported basis.

Orange is keen to tout its multinational spread, even though it has withdrawn or is withdrawing from some countries (Thailand and Sweden spring immediately to mind). Almost a third of customers live outside France and the UK, its two key markets with 20.4m and 13.8m customers, respectively.

The rest are scattered across Benelux, Switzerland, Denmark, eastern Europe, Africa, Madagascar and the Dominican Republic. Orange joined Freemove, a new get-Vodafone alliance of leading European mobile operators. The tie-up has already earned it new client wins, it says.

Orange is on track to roll out 3G in France and the UK in the second half of the year. This quarter it is launching Talk Now, Europe's first push to talk service, in France and the UK. A full European roll-out is expected by the end of the year. ®

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