Telenet trumps Belgian incumbents on mobile growth

Belgian cable group Telenet posted core profits that were higher than expected in the third quarter and attributed this pleasing result to strong growth in its mobile business as well as solid adoption of its triple-play plans.

According to Reuters, adjusted EBITDA in the third quarter rose 8 per cent to €219.5 million ($303 million), beating the €215 million expected in a Reuters poll of seven analysts.

Telenet, which operates as an MVNO in Belgium and uses the Mobistar network, said it added 38,000 postpaid mobile users in the third quarter and had 712,900 active subscribers at the end of September. The company added that this growth was achieved "despite a more competitive environment and our focus on a more cost-effective customer acquisition," with mobile ARPU also up by 15 per cent at €31.20.

Telenet's mobile fortunes thus contrasted significantly from those of the three main network operators in the country: Belgacom reported a 7.7 per cent decline in third-quarter core profits largely due to declines in its mobile revenue, while Orange's Mobistar, which now only sells mobile services after abandoning the resale of TV and broadband services from Belgacom, also saw third-quarter profits fall by 26 per cent to €89.1 million ($122 million).

Reuters reported that KPN's Base unit, meanwhile, saw a 7.1 per cent decline in revenue during the third quarter. The three operators have suffered from falling mobile prices in Belgium as well as regulatory measures that have affected roaming charges.

Bloomberg noted that Belgacom has to put its mobile clients onto lower-priced rate plans to stem churn and has been unable to offset lower mobile revenue through prices increases for its fixed products.

The group said it is on track to meet 2013 forecasts, repeating guidance for a fall in revenues of between 1 and 2 per cent and a decline in core profit of between 4 and 6 per cent, Reuters reported. The company is also continuing its strong focus on a multi-service strategy with a variety of fixed and mobile bundles on offer.

Belgacom, Mobistar and Base recently submitted bids to take part in the country's 800 MHz spectrum auction in November.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this separate Reuters article
- see this third Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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