The country’s largest mobile operator has 1,951,000 customers compared to 1,967,000 a year ago. It has also marginally increased its mobile customer base by 1,000 from the previous quarter. Five years ago, Vodafone Ireland had 2.24 million mobile customers here, compared to 1.95 million today. But heavy competition at the budget end of the mobile market saw competitors such as Tesco Mobile eat heavily into its prepaid base. However, Vodafone has added 20,000 contract mobile customers as punters opt for high-end devices such as iPhones and Samsung S8 handsets.
The operator’s service revenue declined by 2.5pc year-on-year and by 1.2pc from the previous quarter. However, when mobile termination rates are excluded from considerations, it grew 1.1pc. Areas of service revenue growth were attributed by Vodafone to fixed customer growth. The company now has 264,000 fixed broadband customers, up 6.9pc over the previous year. Broadband subscription figures are likely to grow again due to Vodafone’s part in rolling out fibre-to-the-home broadband in large regional towns. Vodafone is a 50pc stakeholder in Siro, a joint venture with the ESB. The joint venture currently has over 80,000 homes and businesses passed for fibre broadband with a target of 500,000 in coming years.
Executives from Vodafone and Siro say the venture expects a more than 20pc take-up rate in rolled out areas within 12 months of connection. The company declined to release its Irish average revenue per unit (Arpu) figures. However, in six of the eight European markets for which it made disclosures, Arpu fell.
Official figures from Ireland’s telecoms regulator show that Arpu in Ireland is falling on average across all operators.
“We continue to grow the business, expanding customer numbers across both fixed and mobile,” said Anne O’Leary, chief executive of Vodafone Ireland. “We also continue to roll out our Gigabit Hub Initiative with further location announcements coming.”
Simon Hoare MP is backing a new bill that should benefit rural areas including his North Dorset constituency. He praised the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill in the House of Commons. During the debate he said small shire districts that areaways seeking to be more efficient would benefit greatly from the bill.
He said: “It will be absolutely crucial for the farmer in my constituency who is trying to buy or sell stock and make their submission to the Rural Payments Agency to have fast, reliable broadband of a speed and regularity of service.”
He said it was also important for delivery services in rural areas that are not particularly well served by rural public transport.
Mr Hoare also highlighted the advantages for tourism with promotion of hotel and pub rooms, visitor attractions and interactive tourist information centres in areas where local authorities have reduced support and services.
He pointed out the benefits made possible in education and the advantages of receiving faster films and sports coverage.
Mr Hoare suggested to fellow MPs that they “remind ourselves of the most enormous strides made in broadband provision for all our constituents and constituencies, urban and rural.”