A surge in contract customers has seen Three more than double its profits for the first half of this year.
For the six months to 30 June, earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) was £26m, up from £12m for the same period last year. Sales were up 5% to £918m.
Three's contract customers grew by 21% to 4.8 million, with total customers increasing by 13% to 8.4 million. Net contract customer growth was 382,000, up 83% on 2011. Overall, it added one million net new customers during the past 12 months.
The operator said it is benefiting from the shift to data-focused smartphones and contracts. Average handset data usage has more than doubled year on year to 1.1GB.
Meanwhile, contract handset churn continued its downward trend. It is currently at 1.1%, down from 1.7% on 2011 and 1.4% for the previous six months trading.
Three CEO David Dyson said: 'We started 2012 as the UK’s fastest growing network and we’ve seen that growth accelerate. Over the past 12 months we’ve added one million customers. Our clear focus on a network built for the internet and providing clear value is being rewarded as we build our reputation as the network of choice for smartphones.'
Three CFO Richard Woodward said: 'Our core market of contract handset customers is growing strongly and profitably. This is the key driver of our financial performance. Our market leading network economics allow us to deliver the data experience smartphone users increasingly demand and our focus on effective direct distribution channels has created a momentum we expect to maintain.'
Editor: Graeme Neill