Bouygues Telecom boasts 42% of mobile customers are now on 4G

Bouygues Telecom said it had 4.1 million 4G customers at the end of June this year, meaning that 42 per cent of its mobile customer base excluding M2M is now using the high-speed mobile service.

The France-based operator, which also reported a return to EBITDA growth in the second quarter of 2015 and lifted its profit target for the year, is placing a strong focus on LTE and fibre growth in an effort to remain a standalone operator in a market of four major network players. At the end of June 2014, 4G accounted for just 19 per cent of the company's mobile base.

Like its rivals, Bouygues Telecom wants more 4G customers as they typically require larger mobile data plans. The company said 4G customers consumed 2.4 GB of mobile data per month on average, noting that 25 per cent of 4G customers with a 3 GB plan reach this limit every month.

Earlier this year, Bouygues Telecom overhauled its Sensation smartphone plans by adding more content to attract users. The company said this strategy, combined with efforts to win more fibre broadband customers with low-cost offers, helped it to achieve a good commercial performance in the second quarter of this year.

As a result, it has now revised upwards its targets for the full year and is forecasting EBITDA of around €750 million ($847 million) compared to €694 million in 2014. The company had previously forecast that EBITDA would remain stable in 2015.

Analysts from Jefferies International noted that the return to EBITDA growth in the second quarter "is significant and was delivered alongside continued strong commercial progress" and robust cost cutting. With regard to cost cuts, Bouygues said its target of €300 million of savings in 2016 compared to the end of 2013 "will be significantly outstripped".

In the second quarter of 2015, EBITDA increased to €205 million, which was above Jefferies' estimate of €174 million and an improvement on the €118 million posted in the first quarter. A year ago, second-quarter EBITDA reached €184 million according to restated figures. Revenue in the second quarter was stable at €1.1 billion.

In the first six months of the year EBITDA grew by €21 million to €323 million. The EBITDA margin was up 1.5 points over the half-year to 17.1 per cent. Revenue was slightly lower in the first half, falling 1 per cent to €2.2 billion.

Also for the first half of 2015, the company reported a current operating loss of €54 million, an improvement by €17 million from the first half of 2014, and an operating loss of €109 million. This included €55 million in non-current charges primarily related to the network-sharing rollout with Numericable-SFR.

For more:
- see the Bouygues Group results presentation

Related articles:
Arcep permits Orange and SFR to refarm 1800 MHz spectrum for 4G
SFR, Orange signal recovery as Q2 trends show promise
France kicks off 700-MHz spectrum auction
In France's mobile market, will 4 become 3?
Bouygues says 'non' to French consolidation, shuns Altice

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