Hutchison Whampoa has revealed that its wireless arm 3 had signed up a total of 5.9 million subscribers worldwide by 14 December, an increase of 81% on the 3.9 million reported three months earlier. The 3G operator said that it added 948,000 customers in November alone, with an additional 496,000 users signing up to the network in the first 14 days of December. Its UK and Italian units have witnessed the highest growth, but its other operations – in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel, Ireland, Norway and Sweden – have also seen their customer bases grow. The proportion of pre-paid subscribers has also risen, from 49% of the total on 18 August, to 58% on 14 December.
HW’s Managing Director, Mr Canning Fok, said that he expected to see the growth continue in the run up to Christmas, on the back of having launched a new range of handsets in November. At the end of November, 3’s monthly revenue stood at HKD2.26 billion, up from HKD1.2 billion in July. Financial advisor Merrill Lynch has forecast that the company will have 6.38 million 3G subscribers by the end of this year and 11.8 million at the end of 2005, while Goldman Sachs has recently raised its end-2004 forecast to 6.8 million.