Discounted telephone calls cost France Telecom dear during the first nine months of 1998, but the company made gains in mobile and Internet services.
France's dominant telecomms operator today reported total revenue of FFr118 billion (#12.7 billion) for the nine months ended 30 September, an increase of 4.2 per cent over the first nine months of 1997.
But fixed line telephony revenues dropped by 5.4 per cent to FFr69.5 billion (#7.5 billion). France Telecom said the drop reflected the significant rate cuts for national and international long distance calls, introduced last October.
France Telecom will report its profit/loss for the period in January, when it announces its full year results. In September, the company reported a 14 per cent drop in profits for the first half of the year to FFr7.6 billion (#819 million).
Internet traffic increase fourfold during the nine-months period, and subscribers to France Telecom's Wanadoo Internet access service increased fivefold from 61,000 during the first nine months of 1997 to 331,000.
Mobile telephony revenues increased 48.8 per cent for the period, generating FFr17.2 billion (#1.8 billion), and representing 14.6 per cent of the company's total revenue. France Telecom's Itineris GSM service had 4.475 million subscribers on 30 September, almost double what it had 12 months earlier.
The French government on Monday announced its intention to continue selling shares in the state controlled operator, after the company's share price strengthened. At present the government owns 75 per cent of the operator, but the planned sale will reduce its stake to 62 per cent.
Michel Bon, France Telecom's CEO, will be in London next week to explain details of the sale. The company is expected to use money raised to buy a stake in Germany's Deutsche Telekom and to expand its international operations.
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