3’s financial results were revealed today, with the company’s UK subscriber base edging slightly up to 4.5 million customers – up 9% from last year.
That lift has been largely achieved by gains in the contract market – where it saw a 12% increase, taking its contract base to 2.8 million.
The network has struggled in the past with trying to control a high-churning base of deal-seeking customers, built largely via cashback deals from independent dealers.
The company is now looking to add mobile customers on relatively low-end deals through its own stores and website, and aggressively retain them. It is believed to be adding almost half of its contract customers on mobile broadband 'dongle' deals at the moment, according to sources.
The relatively opaque 3 results were one element of parent company Hutchison Whampoa's whole financial reporting figures in Hong Kong, and didn’t reveal the profitability or operating margin of the UK mobile operation.
What it did say was that the group had incurred a cost of £210m last year for settling various regulatory matters and disputes with rival networks in UK and Italy. These are understood to concern issues such as roaming, porting and termination rates.
Elsewhere in the figures, 3 claimed it raked in £1.6bn in revenue over the last 12 months – up 5% from the previous, with virtually all of it from its contract customers.
Its average customer spend fell 7% to £43.40, and contract churn has stayed flat at 2.6%, the company claims.