Norway-based Ice Group has reported delivering what it called a ‘record high’ adjusted EBITDA result for the first quarter of 2021, while also revealing an uptick in revenues during the period under review.
For the quarter ended 31 March 2021 the carrier reported total service revenues of NOK510 million, up 12% against the NOK456 million (USD54.7 million) it reported for the corresponding period a year earlier. Smartphone service revenues accounted for the lion’s share of that figure, and rose by a similar percentage, reaching NOK426 million in Q1 2021, compared to NOK378 million previously. Adjusted EBITDA, meanwhile, totalled NOK86 million, up sharply from the NOK4 million figure it reported for 1Q20, while Ice Group’s net loss narrowed to NOK263 million from NOK420 million.
Customer numbers too maintained an upward trend, with the group reporting a total of 650,000 ‘smartphone subscribers’ on its books as of 31 March 2021, up from 584.000 a year earlier, although it did note that subscription sales had been negatively affected by the temporary closure of retail stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, it also reported a mobile broadband subscriber base of 76,000 for end-March 2021, down from 85,000 a year earlier. Smartphone ARPU for 1Q21 stood at NOK226 per month, up NOK2 y-o-y, but still below the figure of NOK231 in Q4 2020. According to Ice Group, with retail store sales generally representing higher ARPU compared to other sales channels, it suggested the temporary closure of its retail stores had affected ARPU negatively in the first quarter of this year.
With regards to its infrastructure rollout, Ice Group noted that as of 31 March 2021 it had 2,990 base stations on-air, up 103 quarter-on-quarter, adding it was on track with its guidance of deploying between 300 and 500 base stations in 2021. As the operator has continued to expand its own network, meanwhile, so has its on-net share continued to develop positively, with Ice Group noting that the on-net share of data was 90% in 1Q21, up from 83% in the first quarter of 2020, while on-net voice share stood at 68% in 1Q21 (1Q20: 63%).
Ice Group CEO Eivind Helgaker said of the company’s performance,: ‘In sum, our operational and financial parameters continue to point in the direction we want them to. The first quarter as a whole – including macro effects outside our control – demonstrates our strong platform, the scale effects in our business and our competitive advantages. Based on this, we remain confident about achieving our guiding of an adjusted EBITDA-margin of 15-20% in 2021.’