Last minute Christmas shoppers have delighted the two newest mobile phone operators, which both reported record sales and subscribers last year, stealing market share from Cellnet and Vodafone.
One2One, which is owned by Cable & Wireless and US West, said it achieved its highest ever level of monthly gross connections during December. At the end of last year its customer base totalled 545,000, helping to increase its share of the UK mobile phone market to eight per cent. A total of 85,000 subscribers were added between October and December.
Arch-rival Orange, owned by Hutchison, also saw its subscriber base double during 1996 to more than 785,000. Around 125,000 subscribers were added in the fourth quarter and it now claims 11.5 per cent of the UK market.
Orange attributed the growth to its higher value Talkshare product, which allows customers to purchase two phones on one talk plan. Last year Orange increased its coverage of the UK from 85 per cent to 92 per cent. One2One said it plans to make its services available to 95 per cent of the UK population this year.
Of the established players, Vodafone saw strong performance internationally with growth in France, Greece and South Africa. Back home, it connected 332,000 subscribers during October and December, which produced 146,000 net new subscribers.
Chris Gent, chief executive of Vodafone Group, said: ?The highlight of the year in the UK was the strong growth in our digital network where the subscriber base increased by 820,000, with new connections being supported by a very successful policy of migrating existing customers from the analogue to the digital network.?
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