T-Mobile and Virgin ring up growth

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The Independent Online

T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile announced strong customer growth figures yesterday despite remaining embroiled in a dispute over the future ownership of their UK joint venture.

T-Mobile saidits UK customer base had grown by 1.2 million customers in the fourth quarter, giving a total customer base of 13.6 million. Of that growth, 506,448 were new customers to Virgin Mobile, which is a 50/50 partnership between the two companies with Virgin using the T-Mobile operating network to connect its customers.

Virgin said the performance of its brand made it the fastest-growing UK mobile business over the past two years, citing figures from Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, which showed it had grown 28 per cent in the 24 months to 30 September, 2003.

T-Mobile's overall performance in the UK came after a radical overhaul of how it calculated its customer numbers in the first half of last year, when it cleaned out large numbers of dormant customer accounts.

The German-owned business also said its US operations had enjoyed strong year-on-year growth with customer numbers up 3.2 million to 13.1 million. Total T-Mobile customer numbers across all its international markets rose 13 per cent to 61 million in 2003.

T-Mobile and Virgin have been arguing about the future of their UK joint venture since last year. However, an out of court settlement now looks likely, with full ownership expected to end up in the hands of the Virgin Group.