Voda­fone Ire­land back in the black

Mo­bile op­er­a­tor posts op­er­at­ing profit of €12.6m on flat rev­enues of €966m Gain mostly wiped out by losses at Siro, its fi­bre in­fra­struc­ture joint ven­ture with ESB

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - MARK PAUL Busi­ness Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

Voda­fone Ire­land, the largest mo­bile op­er­a­tor in the State, re­turned to prof­itabil­ity last year, ac­cord­ing to its lat­est ac­counts.

The group’s fi­nan­cial state­ments for the year to the end of March 2018 show it posted an op­er­at­ing profit of €12.6 mil­lion on flat rev­enues of €966 mil­lion. This com­pared with an op­er­at­ing loss of €3.1 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year. Its swing back into the black was ac­counted for by the €15 mil­lion it shaved off its op­er­at­ing costs.

While its turnover re­mained steady, “ser­vice rev­enues”, or call charges, dipped slightly. Voda­fone made up the ground, how­ever, by in­creas­ing its rev­enues from the sale of mo­bile phone hand­sets by €5 mil­lion to €22.2 mil­lion, as more cus­tomers switched to higher-speed 4G phones.

The num­ber of 4G cus­tomers in­creased by 8.1 per cent to 1.2 mil­lion, more than half of Voda­fone’s to­tal cus­tomer base of 2.3 mil­lion, which in­cludes all mo­bile, fixed-line and tele­vi­sion cus­tomers. As cus­tomers in­creas­ingly chose con­tent-rich on­line ser­vices, how­ever, the amount of data con­sumed rose ex­po­nen­tially, by 50 per cent.

Al­though Voda­fone posted an op­er­at­ing profit, the gain was mostly wiped out by losses at Siro, its 50-50 fi­bre in­fra­struc­ture joint ven­ture with ESB. Af­ter other ad­just­ments, the net profit was €1.7 mil­lion, ver­sus a €22.7 mil­lion loss in 2017. Siro is build­ing a high-speed whole­sale fi­bre net­work that runs fi­bre-op­tic cable directly into the walls of homes and busi­nesses af­ter string­ing it along the net­work of ESB poles.

‘Pos­i­tive year’

Voda­fone said 150,000 of the planned 500,000 homes targeted in 50 re­gional towns had been “passed” with fi­bre al­low­ing 1-gi­ga­bit in­ter­net speeds by the end of March. Voda­fone swal­lowed €13.7 mil­lion as its half share of Siro’s losses for the year, while it com­mit­ted to in­vest­ing €29 mil­lion in the roll-out over the com­ing year. The com­pany also said it per­formed early 5G mo­bile net­work tests in Fe­bru­ary, which it claimed achieved speeds of up to 15 gi­ga­bits.

Anne O’Leary, Voda­fone Ire­land’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, de­scribed the year to the end of March as “an­other pos­i­tive year”. She said the com­pany has in­vested more than €2 bil­lion in its Ir­ish net­work to date, as she high­lighted its 5G plans and busi­ness Gi­ga­bit Hubs project, which pro­vides free in­ter­net for two years to some re­gional busi­nesses.

The ac­counts sug­gest Voda­fone took a €14 mil­lion hit on un­paid cus­tomer phone bills over the year. The com­pany’s 1,048 staff were paid a mean-av­er­age salary of €72,300, down slightly on the pre­vi­ous year.

Voda­fone added 51,000 post-pay (con­tract) mo­bile cus­tomers over the year, up al­most 5 per cent, while an­other 5,100 signed up for fixed-line ser­vices. The group says it now has a to­tal mo­bile phone cus­tomer base of 1.95 mil­lion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.