Ireland’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Vodafone Ireland, saw its base dip by 1.6%, or a net 34,000 users, in the second quarter of this year, to close out the period with a little over 2.1 million connections. Industry watchers are speculating that the decline could be the result of increasing numbers of customers ditching multiple devices in favour of owning just one smartphone – although Vodafone declined to confirm this. However, a spokeswoman for the cellco did say: ‘The general economic conditions and telecommunications market in Ireland remain challenging and competitive,’ adding that, ‘there has been a significant shift of customers from pay-as-you-go to bill pay to avail of better value through subsidised smartphone devices and bundles.’
Vodafone Ireland’s monthly blended average revenue per user (ARPU) fell by 2% year-on-year to EUR28.6 (USD38.4) in the period under review. It said that the sustained increase in smartphone penetration and data usage has continued, with penetration of such devices reaching 63% of the total user base at 30 June 2014.
Nonetheless, Vodafone Ireland faces the threat of competition in the months to come, following the announcement earlier this month that Hutchison 3G Ireland, which trades as 3 Ireland and is owned by Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa, has formally completed the acquisition of O2 Ireland from Telefonica of Spain. At the time, 3 Ireland chief executive Robert Finnegan said: ‘This is a big day for the Irish telecoms market. We will now get down to the task of combining the strengths and talents of the two businesses to create a major force in the Irish mobile market, which will be good for competition, good for consumers and good for Ireland.’ The takeover boosts Hutch’s market share by a factor of roughly four to close to 39%, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.