O2 tops rivals and grows in third quarter

Mobile operator O2 said yesterday that it was the only UK network to grow its revenues in the third quarter, as it benefited from its since-expired deal to be the exclusive seller of Apple&rsquo;s iPhone.<br /><br />The UK arm of Spain&rsquo;s Telefonica said that it saw demand for its mobile data services &ndash; customers accessing the internet through their devices &ndash; increase in the period, with average revenue per user (ARPU) for data rising by 5.1 per cent. <br /><br />O2&rsquo;s stranglehold on the UK iPhone market came to an end this week when rival Orange commenced sales of the sought-after device, selling over 30,000 units on the first day of trading. Vodafone will join in and sell the iPhone after Christmas. <br /><br />But Telefonica Europe chief executive Matthew Key said that O2 UK had established itself as &ldquo;the home of the smartphone&rdquo;.<br /><br />&ldquo;And we are now seeing firm evidence of mobile data taking off with more than five&thinsp;million of our UK customers regularly accessing the internet on their phones and a 20-fold increase in data traffic on our network over the last year,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Telefonica said that revenues for O2 UK in the first nine months were up 4.3 per cent at &euro;4.87bn (&pound;2.94bn). For Telefonica Europe, which includes O2 Germany, O2 Czech Republic and O2 Ireland, revenues were up slightly less, 1.4 per cent, at &euro;10.1bn.<br /><br />The global group reported a flat nine-month profit, on revenues 3.3 per cent lower at &euro;41.72bn. <br /><br />With mobile telephony and internet still booming and the economy starting to revive, Latin American units broadly outperformed European counterparts and helped plug some of the gaps, although exchange rate losses ate away much of the gains in euros.<br /><br />Like most of the telecoms sector the group has weathered the recession by tightening its belt, cutting costs internally and for clients, and scaling back investment.<br />