Growth slows as Virgin Mobile 'thrives'

MVNO ARPU down too

Virgin Mobile - the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which is the UK's fifth largest mobile outfit - reported today that it "continues to grow strongly and thrive", according to a stock exchange statement.

The number of active punters grew 21 per cent over the last year from 3.4m in June 2004 to 4.1m at the end of last month.

Virgin Mobile (which is predominantly a pre-pay business but earlier this year unveiled a contract service) also reported that it attracted 77,000 new punters in the three months to the end of June - half the number it attracted during the same period last year.

Likewise, the amount of cash it received from each punter (ARPU) is also down, falling from £142 in June 2004 to £123 at the end of last month.

"This change primarily reflects the impact of the Ofcom interconnect rate cuts [call charges between operators] in September 2004," explained Virgin Mobile in a statement.

Still, none of this appears to have dampened the enthusiasm of Virgin Mobile chief exec Tom Alexander.

"These results demonstrate that Virgin Mobile continues to grow strongly and thrive in a competitive market. We are looking forward to the rest of the financial year - a period of continuing strong customer expansion and superior revenue growth."

By late morning shares in Virgin Mobile were up 3p at 249p. ®

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