Big rise in customers for smart Three

Britain's fourth biggest mobile network Three claimed its "great smartphone experience" helped it to grab 900,000 new customers in the last year – a faster rate than bigger rivals EE, O2 and Vodafone.

Profits before exceptional items jumped to £281m, with sales up 9 per cent at £1.95bn. It was the second year in a row that Three has been in the black – before tax and interest payments – after years of losses.

The chief executive Dave Dyson said Three's decision to invest in up-grading its network with "ultra-fast" technology was winning more customers.

Three's subscriber base has climbed to over 9 million although it is still dwarfed by EE with 26.8 million, O2 on 22.9 million and Vodafone with 19.3 million.Average revenue per user fell 3 per cent to £21.19 a month but Three offset that through efficiencies. It is owned by Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa.