Friday 19 January 2018

Vodafone doubles profits but leaks mobile customers

Vodafone Ireland chief executive Anne O’Leary
Vodafone Ireland chief executive Anne O’Leary
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Vodafone Ireland has reported improved profits and margins but suffered a fall in revenue and mobile customers.

The country's biggest operator recorded a quarterly profit of €55m, more than twice that of the same quarter last year. However stiff competition in the Irish market continued to bite, with a loss of 24,000 mobile customers.

Overall,Vodafone has lost almost 300,000 mobile customers in the last five years, around 13pc of its mobile base. Five years ago, it had 2.24m mobile customers here, compared to 1.95m today.

A spokesman said that the loss of customers was due to competition and an "industry shift" from prepaid users to contract deals.

Recent figures from the telecoms regulator ComReg show that the overall number of mobile customers in Ireland has increased over the last five years.

Vodafone's revenue decreased by €25m to €996m over the last year but its adjusted operating profit more than doubled, from €25m to €55m. It also increased its margins by 1.8pc.

The company now has 260,000 fixed broadband customers, most of whom are on a telephone service using Eir landlines. It has recently 'passed' 70,000 homes and businesses for a fibre-to-the-home broadband service in large regional towns. The service, rolled out by Vodafone and the ESB under the Siro joint venture, aims to have 500,000 premises passed by the end of 2018.

However, Vodafone and the ESB are considering whether or not to proceed with Siro's bid for the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan. The joint venture has already spent upwards of €2m on preparations for the national tender, due to be released later this year.

However, Vodafone and Siro executives are unhappy at a recent deal between the Government and Eir to reduce the number of homes and businesses that will be serviced under the rural broadband rollout.

The company also announced that more than 1.2 million 4G-enabled devices are used on Vodafone Ireland's network, a 42pc increase on the same period last year. Mobile data usage increased by 37pc year-on-year.

Vodafone Ireland, headed by chief executive Anne O'Leary, announced in March 2017 that it is committing an additional €500m investment over the next three years as it looks to further improve services to customers.

The global Vodafone business yesterday forecast a jump in cash generation this year, and a higher dividend as it eases back on network investment.

That upbeat outlook sent its shares more than 4pc higher, despite earlier reporting a €6.1bn 2016 loss, dragged down by a write-down on Vodafone India.

Irish Independent

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