Christmas hang-up for mobiles

The mobile telephone market fell sharply in December compared with the year before when a record 400,000 people signed up for the networks, writes Mary Fagan.

Vodafone and Cellnet, the largest operators, said that in spite of the lack of any seasonal boost, 1995 was the best year for the industry. Vodafone added 694,000 new subscribers during the year - around 20 per cent up on 1994 - bringing its total to more than 2.33 million.

Cellnet, which has lagged Vodafone in terms of subscriber base, took on 739,000 new customers and ended the year only a few tens of thousands behind its rival. Both operators are feeling the effect of competition from Orange, the newest operator, which is owned by Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong. Price competition has pushed Vodafone's average revenue per customer to about pounds 427 annually compared with around pounds 520 in the previous year.

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