The launch of Wind Tre in Italy pushed up Three Europe’s revenues and earnings last year, while the company’s UK arm said legal action was a possibility if the next spectrum auction didn’t go its way.
Three Group Europe saw revenues in local currencies increase five percent year-on-year in 2016, although on a reported basis they fell one percent to HK$62.4 billion.
The Hong Kong-owned business also saw reported EBITDA grow nine percent to HK$18.9 billion last year – a 15 percent jump in local currencies.
Growth was driven by the launch of Wind Tre – a joint venture with VimpelCom in Italy – in November.
Wind Tre is now the largest mobile operator in Italy with 31.3 million customers and a market share in excess of 37 percent.
Three saw sales in Italy rise 12 percent to €2 billion as a result.
Revenues also rose five percent in Austria, three percent in Sweden and two percent in Denmark.
Ireland was the only country where revenues declined, falling five percent.
In the UK, Three saw revenues grow four percent to £2.3 billion last year as its customer base rose by 618,000 to reach 11.4 million.
Data usage per UK customer rose from 5GB in 2015 to 6.4GB last year, cementing the operator’s position as the leading carrier of data in the country.
Three UK Chief Executive Dave Dyson said data growth was showing “no sign of stopping”.
As such, he returned to his favourite hobby horse of spectrum allocation in a call with journalists.
Dyson again urged Ofcom to intervene in the UK’s next spectrum auction to ensure that the smaller players got a fairer chance of acquiring bandwidth.
Asked whether Three would consider a legal challenge if the auction did not deliver what it considered to be a fair outcome, Dyson said it was a possibility.
He added: “It would be painful if [the allocation of] spectrum was delayed, but it is more important we find a long-term solution.”
Meanwhile, Three UK is again the subject of data breach.
It was reported yesterday that customers who logged into their accounts were presented with the details of other customers.
A Three spokesperson said: "We are aware of a small number of customers who may have been able to view the mobile account details of other Three users using My3.
“No financial details were viewable during this time and we are investigating the matter."
The operator continues to investigate a handset fraud incident from last year – over 210,000 customers have been affected so far.