By Steve McCaskill
Vodafone's 4G network now has 2.2 million users and covers 57 percent of the U.K. ahead of the operator's planned push into consumer fixed line and television services, according to the Newbury-based firm's third-quarter results.
U.K. revenue increased by 0.9 percent to £1.53 billion during the third quarter of 2014 as the company secured a "steady recovery" in Europe despite ongoing difficulties in Italy and Spain.
After a difficult couple of years, the company is close to revenue growth once again as revenues declined by just 0.4 percent to £9.8 billion.
Vodafone 4G Growth
Vodafone is confident that its investments in 4G and fixed line networks will boost growth, especially since it is half way through its £19 billion Project Spring investment programme.
"We have achieved another quarter of improving revenue trends in most of our major markets," said Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao. "In Europe, improved commercial execution in both mobile and fixed over the last few quarters, combined with strong data demand and a more stable pricing environment, is supporting the steady recovery in the top line."
Across its European markets, Vodafone has reached 65 percent 4G coverage and 13.7 million customers, while its fixed network has connected 26 million premises, or 48 million when wholesale agreements are taken into account.
In its last set of results, Vodafone coverage stood at 59 percent and 10.5 million customers.
Consumer Broadband Launch
"Our customers are really beginning to notice the difference in experience that this investment delivers," added Colao. "We are confident that, over time, this will translate into further improvements in customer perception, ARPU and churn."
In the U.K., Vodafone faces unprecedented competition as the communications market becomes increasingly converged. BT's proposed acquisition of EE, the possible merger of O2 and Three and Sky's launch of a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) will intensify competition and accelerate the move toward "quad-play" services.
In order to compete more effectively, Vodafone has stated its ambition to launch fixed services for consumers in spring 2015, building on the Cable & Wireless network which serves enterprises. There are also plans for a television service, but no details have been disclosed.