Bloomberg News

Hutchison’s Three Sees Unlimited Data Pushing U.K. Growth

March 29, 2012

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (13)’s Three U.K. said there’s no sign of slowing growth in customer numbers as the mobile operator’s unlimited data packages win subscribers at the expense of competitors such as Vodafone Group Plc. (VOD)

Three, the smallest of Britain’s four mobile-phone companies, said today that subscriber numbers jumped 18 percent in 2011 to 8.2 million after it started offering the unlimited data plan. Operator Everything Everywhere introduced a similar package in January, while Vodafone has sought to resist the change by charging customers based on the amount of data used.

“Growth is sustainable, profitable and not stopping,” Three Chief Financial Officer Richard Woodward said in a phone interview today from division headquarters in Maidenhead, England. “We have no intention of slowing down,” as the company’s offer differentiates it from other operators.

U.K. mobile service providers are encouraging customers to use smartphones more while balancing the additional data load on their networks. Three, which has a target of doubling its customer base by 2015, has started to restrict unlimited tariffs in a small number of areas, and is seeking additional frequencies to add capacity.

Three would be interested in buying spectrum being sold by Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) and France Telecom SA’s Everything Everywhere venture, unit Chief Executive Officer David Dyson said on March 27.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said last month that the Newbury, England-based company wasn’t “religious” about its data pricing and that the operator will probably “experiment with different things in different markets.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Browning in London at jbrowning9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net


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