eircom posted first quarter profits of EUR173 million (USD256 million) in the three months 30 September, an increase of 4% on the same period of 2006, driven by a strong performance from its mobile arm Meteor. The group said revenues were also up 4% year-on-year at EUR514 million, helping drive a healthy rise in EBITDA. Meteor Mobile added 33,000 net additions in the third quarter to end the period with 908,000 subscribers, up 24% on 3Q06, of which 109,000 were post-paid accounts. The cellco’s underlying profits rose from EUR11 million to EUR28 million, on revenue of EUR116 million, up 33%.
eircom also reported that take-up of high speed internet access services continues to grow with 35,000 DSL users signed up in the period under review to boost the total number of people using its DSL network to 490,000 by the start of October; by 15 November this figure had increased to 518,000 users. According to the former monopoly, broadband penetration in the Republic currently stands at 18.4% of the population just below the OECD average of 18.8%. On a less positive note, profits from the fixed line business dropped by EUR11 million to EUR145 million on unchanged revenue of EUR417 million. In the fixed line market, the company said that it now has 518,000 subscribers.
In a separate story, it is understood that eircom plans to hire consultants next year to discuss the split of the company into two separate division – retail and wholesale. The telecoms regulator ComReg is also hiring its own consultants to examine proposals for a structural separation under what they term ‘the Project’. Commenting on the rumour, eircom chief executive Rex Comb would only say that his company will discuss its plans once the consultants are in place.