Revenues rise at Three as it targets ‘aggressive’ 5G rollout

Active customer base up by 7% to 2.3m in first half as earnings rise 4% to €98m

Republic  soccer players Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady. Three is the biggest sponsor of the FAI.    Photograph: Inpho

Republic soccer players Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady. Three is the biggest sponsor of the FAI. Photograph: Inpho


Mobile operator Three Ireland has shrugged off the impact of regulatory cuts to roaming rates and termination fees, posting a 2 per cent rise in revenues for the first half of the year to €296 million.

The company also recorded a 4 per cent rise in earnings to €98 million, as a sales boost from a rise in subscribers outpaced declines in average spend that have affected the whole market.

Three’s active customer base in Ireland rose by 7 per cent over the first half of the year to 2.3 million, according to figures released on Thursday in Hong Kong by its parent group, Hutchison Whampoa.

Robert Finnegan, Three Ireland’s chief executive, also said its customer “churn”, or the rate at which users leave for another operator, was just 1 per cent, well below the industry average.

“The biggest driver of these results is the increase in customers,” he said. “You can see that our customer numbers were up 7 per cent and our revenues were up 2 per cent. The 5 per cent reduction is down to reductions in average spend.”

Mr Finnegan said he expects to see a “bottoming out” of the impact of the abolition of European roaming fees and regulatory reductions in termination rates – the fees networks charge each other for connecting calls.

“We will see a stabilisation of the effects from now on,” he said. He does not foresee any major cost cutting or a reduction in its employee headcount in the near future.

“The focus is on providing new products,” he said.

Churn rate

Mr Finnegan said Three’s low churn rate was down to investments it has made in its mobile network. The company spent €56 million upgrading its network over the first six months of the year. It said its 4G network carries more data than all other Irish operators combined, or 65 per cent of the market’s total.

The company remains on course to begin a limited 5G rollout later this year, followed, Mr Finnegan said, by an “aggressive” rollout of services in 2020.

“5G handsets will only become available on the market some time next year,” he said.

Three is the biggest sponsor of the Football Association of Ireland, which is currently in flux over its corporate governance arrangements and financial management. Mr Finnegan said Three expects the highest standards at corporate governance at the FAI.

“We look forward to those being implemented,” he said.