The UK mobile market saw annual growth drop 0.3pp year on year to 4.4%, the second lowest figure ever recorded. In real terms, annual net additions stood at 3.15m, down slightly on the 3.21m recorded in the prior twelve months. Quarterly net additions totalled 0.97m, taking the total connection base to 74.07m and penetration to 121.5% at the end of Q3.
Quarterly Net Additions, Q4 07 – Q3 08
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Readers should note that we have recently adjusted our figures for Vodafone UK to reflect the registered total, since the company no longer provides an active figure. While this has inorganically boosted Vodafone’s customer base, and hence the market total, it has not altered the market rankings: O2 continues to lead the way, ahead of Vodafone in second place, Orange in third and T-Mobile in fourth. O2 topped the market for quarterly net additions for the first time in two years with a boost of 0.4m, almost double the next best figure of just over 0.2m recorded by Vodafone. At the end of the quarter, O2 had 19.08m customers to 18.72m for Vodafone.
Hutchison again performed well, adding 163k during the quarter to finish on 3.83m. It also saw market-leading annual growth of 26.0%. The only other operator to achieve a double-digit gain was Tesco, which was up 17.5% to 1.92m. It recorded quarterly net additions of 125k, the fourth best figure in the market. Both outperformed Orange, the UK’s third largest operator, which added just 58k to finish on 15.82m, with annual growth of 2.7%. T- Mobile recorded an even lower figure of just 0.2%, although it did at least manage a 54k gain in customers in Q3 following two successive quarters of net losses, thereby pushing its total retail base back over the 10m mark with an end-quarter figure of 10.05m. Virgin could not match this, recording its third successive quarterly loss: a decline of 24k took its total to 4.27m at the end of the quarter – 3.7% down year on year.
Orange’s somewhat disappointing customer growth was mitigated slightly by a 4.6% gain in ARPU to £22.75 per month in Q3. It was the only one of the top four operators to record a year-on-year gain, with O2 flat at £24.30, T- Mobile down 5.1% to £20.66 and Vodafone down 7.9% to £22.00.
Source: Cellular News.