Three celebrates a leap in its market share

Three, Britain's fourth-biggest mobile phones operator, defied falling revenues in other parts of the telecoms sector to report a 14 per cent surge in annual sales to £1.78bn.

Richard Woodward, the chief financial officer, credited a competitive range of tariffs and "all-you-can-eat" data deals for helping to lift subscriber numbers by 18 per cent,to 8.2 million.

"We are absolutely taking some share from our competitors," he said, referring to bigger rivals Everything Everywhere, the alliance of Orange and T-Mobile, and Vodafone and O2.

Profits before exceptional items, known as Ebitda, were £191m against £165m at the UK arm of Three, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong telecoms giant Hutchison Whampoa.

Mr Woodward said demand from smartphone users for data was surging, with usage up fourfold in the past 18 months, and a key focus had been to remove what he called the "fear factor" from bills by being transparent with "all-you-can-eat" deals.