Business Technology

Friday 23 August 2019

Vodafone Ireland sees rise in customers but fall in revenue

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Vodafone Ireland has stopped losing mobile customers but is still seeing key revenues fall here.

The country’s largest mobile operator saw its Irish mobile customer base fall by 11,000 over the last year and by 66,000 compared to two years ago. However, in a sign that its bloodletting may have subsided, it gained 3,000 mobile customers over the last three months and 4,000 mobile customers over the last six months.

In the face of sharp competition from rivals such as Tesco Mobile, which has risen to 6pc of the Irish market, Vodafone has prioritised keeping its contract and business customer base, ceding much of its lower-yielding prepay customers to low cost competitors. Over the last three years, this has seen slight increases in its contract customer base but sharp falls in its prepay customer base, as lower-cost rivals swooped.

The company, which is Ireland’s biggest mobile operator, saw a 3.3pc rise in its fixed line broadband customer base to 265,400. This makes it the third largest broadband operator in Ireland.

Vodafone also said that its €450m Siro joint venture fibre broadband project with the ESB is now available to 110,000 businesses and homes, which is around 5pc of the country’s population.

However, Vodafone Ireland’s half-year service revenue fell by 3pc (€15m) from €484m to €469m. Its most recent quarterly service revenue (July, August, September) fell by 3.3pc (€8m) from €242m to €234m.

The company is blaming the fall in revenue on regulation, including an end to most roaming charges within the EU and a reduction in controlled mobile termination rates from other operators.

Vodafone says that “excluding the impact” of such regulation, its half-yearly service revenue grew by 2pc and its quarterly service revenue fell by 2.8pc.

According to the company’s group results, Ireland is second last out of nine European countries in service revenue growth. It is one of only two of the nine named European markets where service revenue is lower now than two years ago.

However, the UK has performed far worse than Ireland, with service revenue falling by a quarter (€597m) over the same period. The sharp UK decline dragged Vodafone’s overall European results down.

However, the operator reported a rise in global profit from €1.5bn to €2bn, despite a fall in global revenues from €24bn to €23bn.

The company says it wants to launch new products, including ‘V for Vodafone’, which will include services such as connected trackers for vehicles and pets.

“This quarter was marked by the commercial launch of our NB-IoT network, providing customers and partners with multiple connectivity options,” said Anne O’Leary, chief executive of Vodafone Ireland. “We are also continuing to focus our attention on building out the Siro network and following through on our commitment to roll out future-proofed one-gigabit fibre broadband across Ireland.”

The company declined to elaborate further on its decision not to proceed with its short-listed bid for the country’s National Broadband Plan rural fibre rollout scheme. It recently pulled out of the venture, claiming it was uneconomic for it to continue.

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