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Vodafone Hungary revenue falls 5.5% in Q3, under market average

Revenue of the Hungarian unit of UK mobile service provider Vodafone fell 5.5% in Q3, while revenue of the mobile services market as a whole slipped 6%, showing cost cuts and improved efficiency, the unit's CEO György Beck told MTI.

The unit aims to keep its revenue declines under the market average each quarter while raising its share of subscribers, Beck said. Vodafone expects Hungary's mobile services market to contract 6%-8%, in value terms, in 2009 and fall by a similar amount in 2010, he added. Beck expects no upturn before the end of next year.

Vodafone took in 23.3% of total revenue on the market in Q3 and it aims to boost this by a few tenths of a percentage point each quarter, he said. A realistic goal is to reach 24% in the next quarter, he added.

Vodafone's subscriber number rose by 13,599 in Q3, while the number for the market as a whole dropped 106,726. Within the total, the number of mobile internet subscribers rose by more than 98,000 and the number at Vodafone climbed by 31,800.

Beck said Vodafone had to deal with falling prices because of competition and because of cuts in termination fees by the National Communications Authority (NHH). The NHH reduced termination fees, SMS and roaming fees 20% in 2009 and termination fees are likely to be cut by a similar amount from January, he added.

In spite of the difficult circumstances, Vodafone is maintaining its level of profitability, and this remains its goal for the rest of the year and in 2010 too, Beck said.

Beck declined to reveal any details about profits, citing the policy of the parent company.

Vodafone's Hungarian unit added 250 staff in Q3, bringing headcount to 1,600. Staff numbers will rise to 1,800-2,000 by the end of the business year on March 31. Most new hires are staffing Vodafone's finances centre in Budapest and the customer service center in Miskolc.

Vodafone wants to expand its mobile internet coverage by using the 900 frequency, Beck said. The frequency requires just one-third as many base stations as the frequency it currently uses for the network, he added.

The NHH called a tender for the sale of seven new mobile frequencies in October 2008 but cancelled the offer in March because of the global financial and economic crisis. It is expected to call another tender for the 900MHz in 2010.

Vodafone's mobile internet network covers 377 municipalities or about 63% of the population. (MTI – Econews)