Mobile phone market surges

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Forecasts for growth of the British mobile phone market were raised yesterday after record figures for subscribers numbers were released by the two all-digital networks, Orange and One2One.

The news gave a much- needed boost to Orange shares, which rose 5p to close at 193p. Shares in Vodafone also benefited from the announcements, adding 7.5p to 251.5p.

Orange added 125,000 customers to its networks between October and December, including an encouraging Christmas, its highest ever quarterly connections figures, taking total subscribers to 785,000. The network also grabbed 29 per cent of all new customers in the market last year, compared with 15 per cent in 1995.

Graham Howe, finance director, claimed the 406,000 customers added in 1996 put the network clearly in second place behind Vodafone, with more than 1 million digital customers, but ahead of Cellnet and One2One. However the churn rate, which measures how many customers switch to other operators, went up slightly from 18.1 per cent in December 1995 to 18.6 per cent at the end of last year.

One2One added 85,000 subscribers in the last quarter of 1996, to a total of 545,000.