European recovery continues as total Vodafone revenue nears £10 billion
Vodafone now has 4.7 million 4G customers in the UK, up from three million in May, as coverage increased by five percent to 68 percent of the UK population from the previous quarter.
The Newbury-based operator reported total revenues of £10.1 billion across all markets, down by 0.9 percent year on year, but said its European operations were recovering and that its ‘Project Spring’ investment programme was now 71 percent complete.
UK revenues reached £1.4 billion, a 0.3 percent fall, but the company cited strong performance of its business and consumer mobile units, with 83,000 new additions during the quarter. Fixed line revenue, all enterprise at present, fell by 1.3 percent, but Vodafone is confident about its consumer broadband launch later this year.
European service revenues totalled £6 billion, a fall of 6.2 percent, while other territories accounted for £3 billion. Vodafone has 24.1 million global 4G customers and European coverage of 75 percent, up from 52 percent last year, and likely to reach 90 percent by the end of the financial year.
The £19 billion ‘Project Spring’ investment programme has seen 80,000 mobile sites across all markets modernised and the creation of 26,000 new 2G sites, 47,000 new 3G sites and 41,000 4G sites. Just over 70,000 have been upgraded with high capacity backhaul, while 820,000 properties have been added to its fibre or cable networks, which now cover 26 million premises directly and 62 million when wholesale agreements are taken into consideration.
Vodafone has 12.3 million fixed users across Europe, of which 5.3 million are on fibre or cable and has increased M2M connections from 17.5 million to 22.9 million over the past year. Despite a competitive market, CEO Vittorio Colao said its investments, a recovering European market, and growth in enterprise services made him positive about the future.
“Our emerging markets have maintained their strong momentum and more of our European businesses are returning to growth, as customer demand for 4G and data takes off,” he said. “We continue to hit our Project Spring build milestones and customers are beginning to value the improvement in service.
“Our other key growth areas – unified communications and enterprise – are performing strongly, benefiting from the increased capabilities and footprint that our higher levels of investment are delivering. However, our markets are, as always, highly competitive and we therefore have to remain very focused on efficiency, cost control, and excellent value and service to customers.”
Last month, Vodafone confirmed it was in talks with cable giant Liberty Global about a possible exchange of assets but ruled out a full merger. This has increased speculation that Vodafone might look to acquire Virgin Media to better compete with in an increasingly converged UK communications market.
Liberty Global operates cable services in a number of European countries while Vodafone has networks around the world. However at this stage it is unclear which particular assets are ripe for an exchange.
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