Vodafone Group yesterday reported an encouraging uptake in the number of 3G subscribers across its global markets.
The operator reported a significant gain of 287,000 UMTS customers in the UK during the three months to the end of September.
Vodafone registered a total of 561,000 additional subscribers over this same period, taking its total customer base to over 16.3 million in the UK at the end of 2005.
The announcement is indicative of a welcome trend in the mobile industry, according to the latest research from analyst group Informa Telecoms & Media.
3G price plans in western Europe are rising in popularity, and accounted for almost a third of the region's new mobile network subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2005.
Western Europe amassed four million new UMTS subscribers, equivalent to 32.3 per cent of the region's 12.39 million total network additions for the period, giving the strongest indication yet that 3G is finally gaining momentum, the research firm noted.
Vodafone provided further evidence to this effect with the announcement that data as a percentage of revenue increased to five per cent during the quarter.
But it was not all good news. The operator's financial results highlighted some difficulties in its mature markets, with UK 'churn' rising to 31.9 per cent compared with 29.6 per cent in the same period a year ago.
Blended average revenue per user for the quarter dropped 4.3 per cent year on year to £23.80.
Against this background some media reports today suggested that Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin has come under pressure from a number of investors to offload the company's 45 per cent holding in US operator Verizon Wireless.
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