UK mobile operator BT Cellnet has seen its customer base rise by 34 per cent during the second quarter of this year, with nearly a third of those buying an internet-enabled Wap phone.
The company said it had secured a total of 670,000 new customers during the April to June period, bringing its total customer base to nearly 8.1 million - three million more than this time last year.
BT Cellnet will be toasting the success of its strong advertising campaign for its mobile internet phones, with 175,000 of new customers opting to buy a Wap-enabled handset.
The demand for Wap phones is the fastest ever uptake of a new mobile phone technology in the UK, surpassing GSM, according to BT Cellnet. In the UK, an estimated total of 200,000 people have bought a Wap phone, with BT Cellnet claiming to have secured some 90 per cent of the market.
Peter Erskine, managing director of BT Cellnet, said early Wap adopters are proving to be heavy users compared with traditional 'voice only' customers. A BT Cellnet spokeswoman confirmed that the average Wap customer's total phone use is 50 per cent higher than the non-Wap user.
"We are finding that the Wap customers are high-quality customers who want to use the phone more," said the spokeswoman. "The fact that internet-enabled handsets are no more expensive than others is encouraging customers to the phones."
The popularity of the operator's Wap phones is a slap in the face for those critics who have predicted the technology's demise over recent months. Some analysts have warned operators to expect a backlash from disgruntled phone users, disappointed with Wap's capabilities.
Several of those analysts were not available for comment today.
Earlier this week, UK mobile operator Orange said that it added a record 1.2 million new customers in the second quarter of 2000 - bringing its total customer base to 7.168 million.
If BT Cellnet's figures are accurate, Orange has made a poor start in the Wap market, despite being the first to offer a service. Orange only offers one model of Wap phone, compared with five from BT Cellnet, and its availability has been limited by supply problems.
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