O2 heralds 'the age of data' as customer numbers soar by 1 million

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The Independent Online

Mobile phone giant O2 attracted just over a million new customers to its network last year, and proclaimed that the “age of mobile internet has arrived”.

Matthew Key, chairman and chief executive of the European arm of O2’s parent Telefónica added the UK business had “defied a shrinking market” to post impressive results for 2009. Growth was underpinned by the rise of smartphones and data revenues rising by half.

He said that data revenues in the UK had hit £650m, adding that “since the second quarter there has been a clear change in trajectory” towards the operation.

Over the course of the year, O2 added a net of 1.1 million contract customers, although pre-pay users retreated by just over 100,000.

The operator said the iPhone continued to fly off the shelves, and while it would not disclose numbers, said it had sold more than the 220,000 Orange had reported since November in its results the previous day. O2 has now sold more than two million iPhones in the UK since it starting selling the device in 2007.

“The iPhone has been a big driver of growth for the industry,” Mr Key said, as the company hopes it can further drive smartphones to the mass market with its forthcoming launch of a new device maid by HTC

Revenues at Telefónica Europe, which also includes its operations in Germany, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, rose 1.1 per cent in constant currency to hit €13.5bn.

Mr Key said the European business “recorded impressive results for the full year in spite of extremely difficult economic conditions”.