MmO2, the mobile group spun off from BT last year, has TV game show Big Brother to thank for better-than-expected results.
Data revenues, of which text messaging accounts for 90 per cent, were up nine per cent over the past three months, with more than one-and-a-half billion text messages sent.
Premium text messages, such as those used in Big Brother eviction voting, cost around 25p each instead of around 10p, and have been marked out as a major source of future growth in revenues for mobile operators. MmO2 also has a deal with Arsenal football club.
But chief executive Peter Erskine admitted that the group was still a takeover target for T-Mobile and had added only 87,000 UK customers over the period. City investors, however, reacted well to the news that mmO2 had gained 111,000 higher-value contract customers and lost 24,000 pre-paid users. Shares closed up 2.5p at 49p.
Meanwhile, transition to the next generation of mobile services looked to be heading for a rough passage after analysts cast doubt on market estimates by Nokia, the world's leading maker of mobile handsets.
Nokia said it was relying on strong seasonal sales in the run up to Christmas and good take up of colour-screen phones with MMS capabilities.
But analysts believe that the relatively high cost of the phones and poor marketing of next-generation services to date make Nokia's prediction of three to 10 per cent growth questionable.
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