Portugal’s second largest wireless operator Vodafone Telecel has released encouraging results for the fiscal third quarter to the end of December 2002, boasting a 2.4% rise in net profit to EUR26.1 million. Net income for the nine months to the end of 2002 reached EUR81.4 million, up 24.3% on the same period of 2001. The cellco, however, said that the figure excludes a year-earlier gain of around EUR19 million generated from the sale of an 80% stake in internet portal Telecel Online to the Vizzavi Group. Including the extraordinary gain, net income for the nine-month period fell by 3.7% from the previous year. Vodafone Telecel’s comparable EBITDA for the nine months stood at EUR236.4 million, a 12.7% increase on the end of 2001, while total operating revenues increased by 3.7% to EUR800.3 million, with cellular services to customers revenues reaching a record EUR475.7 million and services to operators generating EUR244.5 million.
Vodafone Telecel ended 2002 with a total customer base of 3,037,084, having netted an additional 199,096 subscribers in nine months. The majority of new additions subscribed to the pre-paid service, taking the percentage of pre-paid subscribers to around 73%. Vodafone claims that the high number of pre-paid subscribers has contributed to the 8.7% fall in ARPU for the nine month period, which decreased to EUR27.24, but said that a higher number of calls within its own network and some tariff decreases have also had an effect. Vodafone Telecel has been concentrating on the growth of non-voice services during 2002, and launched new data service Vodafone live! in November that year. It claims its portfolio of cutting edge data products and services has given it a leading edge in the Portuguese market. The operator, however, has been slow off the mark when it comes to 3G services, having requested more than once that the rollout deadline be postponed from the beginning of 2003 to at least early 2004, claiming that it would not be able to meet the initial launch date due to a lack of infrastructure and technological problems.