3G Operator Three has revealed that its earnings before tax and interest were £26m for the first half of 2012, an increase of 117% on the previous year. Three CEO David Dyson claimed this was due to the fact that its unlimited data plans had been in demand by customers wanting smartphones.
The figures, including 95m capital expenditure costs, mean that Three was for the first time EBITDA positive for the first time. Sales were upped by 5% to £918m.
The operator’s CFO Richard Woodward ( above ) said that on a like for like basis, with the effects of changes to mobile termination rates (MTRs) stripped out, the company’s revenue growth would have doubled.
Dyson said that the increase in customer demand for smartphones and network investment were responsible for the growth. He added that if the market continues to head toward data and smartphones ‘we are definitely brilliantly positioned to capitalise on that’. He said the operator would continue to make investment in its network to ensure quality, but also maintain the correct cost structure to make sure customers get good value.
Dyson would not comment on the upcoming 4G auction. The operator lost out on getting a guarantee of the sub-1GHz spectrum it had been looking for to add to its existing 2.1GHz holding. Dyson added that he had a team looking through the more-than-1,000-page document.
One million new customers have joined Three in the past 12 months, representing 382,000 net additions and net contract growth of 9%. Contract churn dropped by 0.5% to 1.4%, while blended ARPU was slightly lower year on year, dropping from £22.09 to £21.66.
Data revenues with non-voice ARPU had increased to £10.40 from £8.61, and the average phone data use has increased by more than 100% to 1.1GB a month.
In total, the operator’s registered customer base has increased by more than 13% to reach more than 8.4 million. Dyson said: ‘The key highlight for me is the numbers reflect our performance in the market. The one million growth in customers is really supported by strong growth in the smartphone side.’