David Dyson, speaking publicly for the first time since taking the reins from Kevin Russell, said he plans to increase the firm’s customer base from 5m to 10m over the next four years.
The extra weight means the firm’s network will begin to show signs of congestion next year, making the allocation of new 4G mobile radio waves vital to its plans.
Under a recent restructuring of mobile spectrum rules, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere and O2 have been allowed to “refarm” some of their 2G network to 3G, which is better suited to handling data traffic.
However, they will not start to pay the corresponding 3G licence fee – which could amount to £300m – until after the auction, prompting Dyson to suggest it is in their interests to delay it for as long as possible.
The Ofcom auction, which analysts say could raise around £4bn, has been blighted by complaints from the three major operators. Dyson believes the auction will go ahead next year with 3 involved in the bidding, adding the firm has not decided how much it is willing to spend.
Dyson said 98 per cent of 3’s handset sales are now smartphones, with its share of data traffic boosted by the acquisition of the iPhone.