Pelephone is the third largest of Israel’s four networks, but it was the fastest growing in Q3 08, both in real terms and proportionately. It added 62k customers in the quarter compared to 40k for market leader Cellcom and 36k for second-placed Partner, and its proportionate quarterly growth rate stood at 2.4% compared to 1.3% for both its rivals. At the end of the quarter its active customer base was just short of 2.70m. Nearest rival Partner had 2.88m, which means that its lead over Pelephone was below 200k for the first time in three years.
In fact, Pelephone’s figure for quarterly net additions equalled the Q4 07 figure, which was the best since Q3 05. This is particularly impressive given that the Israeli market is now around 130% penetrated. Despite this strong performance, and the narrowing of Partner’s lead, any changes in the market ranking remain unlikely in the near future. However, Pelephone does lead the market in terms of 3G customers. Its CDMA2000 1x EV-DO base broke the 1m barrier during the quarter to finish on 1.07m, more than 100k higher than the W-CDMA base of Partner. On an annual basis, Pelephone’s 3G base grew 64.1% with net additions of 418k, compared to 410k for the prior twelve-month period.
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EV-DO customers d monthly ARPU
Despite the 3G base representing almost 40% of the total at the end of Q3, against 25.5% a year earlier, ARPU in Q3 08 was actually down on the year- earlier quarter. The Q3 08 average of NIS 129 per month was up on the previous two quarters, but down NIS 6 compared to Q3 07. Usage was also down 1.1% at 359 minutes.
With the total customer base up 5.4% and ARPU down 4.4%, quarterly wireless revenues managed to creep up by just 0.9% with a total of NIS 1,214m. However, EBITDA rose by an impressive 24.1% to NIS 422m, leaving the margin up 6.1pp at 34.8%. Pelephone’s parent company Bezeq recorded total quarterly revenues of NIS 3,159m across the group, while EBITDA stood at NIS 1,245m, equivalent to a margin of 39.4%.
Source: Cellular News.