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Vodafone spending millions to clear path for high-speed gain

Vodafone Ireland is spending tens of millions of euro upgrading its infrastructure as it introduces the first so-called 3.5G high-speed network in the country.

The company disclosed the investment yesterday as shares in its parent jumped over 3.5pc in London after it forecast better than previously anticipated cash flow and a firmer profit outlook for its March year-end.

Job cuts coupled with lower overall infrastructure expenditure have helped to curb costs at Vodafone, while overall service revenue trends in Italy and Germany, two of its most important markets, have improved, the group said.

For the quarter ended in December, group service revenue rose 11pc to £10.7bn (€12bn), although organic service revenue slipped 1.2pc. In Europe, service revenue fell 3.2pc. Group revenue from data services was 17.7pc higher year-on-year and breached the £1bn mark for the first time.

Fixed-line revenue was up 10pc at £862m, while the firm is predicting adjusted operating profit of between £11.4bn and £11.8bn for the financial year.


Despite the recession, Vodafone Ireland added 26,000 mobile subscribers during the quarter compared to the end of October, to bring its total to just under 2.15 million -- the highest among the country's mobile operators.

Gerry Fahy, Vodafone Ireland's strategy director, said that the addition of more customers reflected the Christmas trading period, which he said had been shorter than in previous years as consumers left their shopping until nearer the day.

He added that the addition of subscribers over Christmas also probably reflected a stabilisation in business after consumers struggled through 2009.

He added that Vodafone has been "very encouraged" by the take-up of its fixed-line services, which are branded under Perlico and Vodafone at Home.

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Vodafone Ireland added 9,000 fixed-line customers during the last quarter, bringing its total to 186,000.

Last year, Vodafone sealed a deal with British Telecom's Irish arm that saw the mobile operator take control of BT's 87,000 residential and small business customers.

My Fahy declined to say how much Vodafone Ireland is investing in its 3.5G, HSPA+ network. He said roll-out has already commenced in Dublin and will start in Cork shortly. The network will enable users to experience download speeds on their handsets of about 16Mpbs.

Vodafone will begin selling Apple's iPhone here within a few weeks. Rival operator O2 has sold it exclusively in the Irish market since 2008.

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