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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 18:23 GMT
Virgin Mobile's user numbers jump
Virgin Mobile
Virgin Mobile was launched in 1999
Customer numbers at Virgin Mobile are up 37% on a year ago, the UK's fifth- largest mobile phone operator has said.

Virgin said its total subscriber base reached 5.03 million by 31 December, and it added a net 417,000 users in the October-to-December period alone.

However, average customer revenues slipped to 132 ($248) in the quarter, down from 137 in the previous quarter.

This was enough to trigger a 19 pence fall in Virgin Mobile's share price to 246 pence on Tuesday.

The company blamed the fall in annual revenues per user (ARPU) on a regulatory cut in tariffs last September.

The group's churn level - when customers switch operators - edged higher to 16.2%.

'Milestone'

The no-frills mobile company was launched in 1999.

It floated on the stock market in July last year and is currently valued at about 670m.

In this last Christmas quarter we enjoyed record connections - our best ever quarter
Tom Alexander, chief executive

Described as a "virtual operator," Virgin differs from rivals, Vodafone, mm02 and Orange in that it does not own its own network - it uses T-Mobile's network to carry its calls.

The majority of its business comes from customers who buy pre-pay vouchers to top up their mobile phones.

On average, the firm spent 28 over the quarter on signing up each new customer, a "modest" increase, according to the company, given highly competitive conditions.

"In this last Christmas quarter, we enjoyed record connections - our best-ever quarter - resulting in Virgin Mobile passing its five million milestone," said Tom Alexander, chief executive of Virgin Mobile.

"Strong January trading has seen us make a good start to 2005."

Virgin Mobile employs 1,400 staff at three locations in Trowbridge, London and Daventry.




SEE ALSO:
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Virgin Mobile makes steady debut
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