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Steady as she goes at Three, no unseemly dash to be Four

It isn't JUST the name thing, insists airy data peddler

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Hutchison's Three network in the UK has seen a ten per cent increase in active users over the past year, it says, with a 14.4 per cent increase in contract punters. The six months to the end of June saw 3 with 9.2m users (7.5m active) of which 5.5m were on contract (5.37m active) - the rest being on prepay.

The network lost 109,000 prepay customers in 2013, but won't mind too much as it saw 267,000 net contract additions.

3 markets its data capacity aggressively, and notes that punters use 1.52GB of data a month - with contract voice customers using only slightly less than contract data-only customers. Vodafone Net ARPU fell from £17.49 in the first six months of 2012 (gross: £20.76), to £15.52 (gross: £19.44) this year.

Overall UK revenue year on year increased to £1bn for the first six months, with Hutch's network again turning a slim profit. EBITDA margin rose substantially to 18.8%. Elswhere in Europe, 3 saw declines of 11 per cent in Denmark and 14 per cent in Sweden, with Italy down 3 per cent. 3 has acquired O2 in Ireland while in Austria it's already merged with Orange - just so you know.

Vodafone UK, with over 9m contract customers, says it will be offering 4G "before the end of the summer" and O2 will hit Leeds, Bradford and London with 4G this month.

For its part, Three has vowed to keep 4G prices in line with 3G tariffs, and it's in no rush. ®

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