Free posts 6% rise in annual EBITDA on steady mobile growth

Tuesday 13 March 2018 | 10:13 CET | News

French telecom group Iliad reported full-year revenues of EUR 4.99 billion, up by 5.6 percent on 2016. The mobile business saw revenues increase by 8.4 percent to EUR 2.21 billion, as the operator’s customer base continued to grow at a steady pace and with a more favourable subscriber mix. The fixed line operations posted revenues of EUR 2.78 billion, up by 3.5 year-on-year. Full-year EBITDA rose by 6 percent to EUR 1.78 billion. This progression was attributed to a sharp increase in the profitability of the mobile business and was supported by the higher proportion of traffic carried directly on Free Mobile’s own network.

The company said that the higher profitability from mobile activities was partly offset by the initial losses incurred by the operations in Italy and by lower profitability in the French fixed line business, which was impacted both by regulatory and commercial changes (including a rise in unbundling fees and the introduction of the TV by Canal Panorama bundle for Freebox customers). Profit from recurring operations improved to EUR 480 million, up 19.3 percent on 2016.

Overall mobile connections increased by 305,000 in the fourth quarter to reach 13.70 million. Just over half of total subscribers are now on the EUR 19.99/month plan, which continues to drive all the net growth in the customer base. LTE connections reached 8.2 million, helped by the ongoing expansion in population coverage (86% at end-2017, up 10 points over 12 months). Average monthly data consumption also remained on an upward trend, reaching 8.4 GB among LTE subscribers (from 4.9 GB a year earlier).

The fixed customer base grew by 25,000 to reach 6.52 million, including 556,000 FTTH subscriptions. Free's fibre footprint reached 6.2 million premises at end-December, up 40 percent from a year earlier, with a target of 9 million premises by the end of 2018. Broadband ARPU was stable quarter-on-quarter at EUR 33.90 but dropped from EUR 34.70 in Q4 2016, mainly as a result of competitive pressure. 

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