Hutchison doubles free roaming for Three UK customers

Hutchison’s Three UK has expanded its free roaming service but has reported falling revenues on a slightly increased number of active customers.

The company, which failed to win approval for a £12.5 billion takeover bid for Telefónica’s O2 UK earlier this year, is more than doubling its list of countries where customers can roam at no extra charge.

CFO Richard Woodward said: “We are absolutely focused on giving our customers the best possible mobile experience and the expansion of Feel At Home to cover more than 80% of customer trips is clear evidence of this. As a result customers are staying with us longer, recommending us to their family and friends and choosing to spend more.”

Three UK introduced Feel At Home service in 2013, offering roaming at no extra charge to seven countries – all places where Hutchison has mobile operators. It later expanded the list to 18 countries, including France, Spain and the US, but it will add another 24 destinations in September.

Two of these are places average UK travellers would not recognise as abroad – the English Channel islands of Guernsey and Jersey. But the list also includes Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal.

Most, but not all, the new destinations are members of the European Union where roaming charges will be abolished from mid-2017.

The company’s half-year results showed that total revenue dropped from £1.07 billion in 2015 to £1.05 billion this year. However EBITDA was up from £311 million to £348 million.

Three had 9.1 million customers, up from 8.9 million in 2015. Three said that customers are now using 5.4GB of data a month on average following the continued rollout of 4G on the network.

CEO Dave Dyson said: “I want to continue to lead the industry on mobile data usage and network reliability and my immediate focus is securing more spectrum which will allow us to gain further scale and become a stronger influence on the industry.”

The company is 13% through a programme if rolling out 800MHz spectrum, a move that has helped to increase indoor coverage from 80% in June 2013 to 92% in June 2016. Three expects to increase that figure to 95% by the end of 2016.

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