Iliad-owned Free Mobile continued to add subscribers in the first quarter of 2016, marginally increasing its share of France's mobile market to more than 17 per cent by the end of March.
The enfant terrible of the French telecoms market said it was "France's leading recruiter of mobile subscribers" in the first quarter, and claimed to have held this position for the past four years. Net additions amounted to 215,000 in the three months to the end of March, taking the company's total mobile customer base to 11.9 million. The number of 4G mobile subscribers has more than doubled to 4.3 million since the first quarter of 2015.
Revenue also increased strongly by 10.4 per cent year-on-year to €484 million ($545 million), largely due to a 14 per cent increase in mobile services revenue. The company noted that it continues to record a higher take-up rate for its €19.99 monthly price plan -- which includes 50 GB of 4G data -- than for its low-cost €2 plan.
Including its fixed and TV services, the Iliad group reported a 6.6 per cent rise in first-quarter revenue to €1.14 billion. Although mobile revenue growth considerably outpaced fixed-line growth of 3.9 per cent, the company noted that the trend has improved in the fixed-line business.
Raymond James analysts said the first-quarter customer and revenue trends were encouraging, Bloomberg reported.
"Iliad's commercial and financial execution remains solid, with continued market share gains in the mobile segment combined with margin expansion," the analysts said.
Iliad continues to place a strong focus on its 3G and 4G network rollout, and said its 4G network now covers 67 per cent of the population. With regard to 2G/3G, the company still relies on a national roaming agreement with Orange but should be in a position to terminate this arrangement gradually from 2018. 3G coverage reached 84 per cent by the end of March.
Free Mobile has enjoyed sustained growth since it first launched its low-cost plans in 2012, sparking a price war that has had significant repercussions for the French market. Recent attempts to reduce the number of mobile players from four to three failed when talks between Orange and Bouygues Telecom finally collapsed in April.
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