Mobile operators have been fighting to raise their average revenue per user (ARPU), ever since it was suggested that this was the key to success. Vodafone and Orange both declared subscriber numbers this week, and they both have new strategies that they hope will raise ARPU over the coming year.
Vodafone reported that it had increased its customer base to 99.9 million in 2001. 4.2 million of these were added during Q4. These numbers were boosted by almost 1 million when the company acquired a larger share of J-Phone last year. Vodafone says that overall its ARPU has remained stable.
One of Vodafone’s strategies to raise ARPU is to reduce the number of prepay customers, since they bring in the lowest ARPUs. The company hopes to cut the proportion of prepay users to just 50% by the end of the years.
Orange’s revenues for 2001, meanwhile, were up 25%, bringing in E15.1 billion. The Paris based company claims to have added over 8.8 million customers over the year, corresponding to a 29% increase. 2.7 million of these were added in the UK.
However, overall, Orange reported a drop in ARPU of around 12.1% in the UK. Over Q3-4 the ARPU picked up somewhat and the company hopes that this trend will continue into 2002.
One strategy for both operators may have been to change the definition of an ‘active’ customer. Orange says that 656,000 customers were not included in its figures – but sceptics say that this is just changing the figures to please Wall Street analysts.