Vodafone delivers UK growth and aims broadside at BT over OpenreachComments Off on Vodafone delivers UK growth and aims broadside at BT over Openreach
“We saw improvements across Europe and a very good quarter in emerging markets,” said chief executive Vittorio Colao.
First-quarter organic growth in service revenue, the measure most closely watched by investors, rose by 0.8% to £9.2 billion, which was above forecasts of 0.5% and well ahead of the previous quarter’s 0.1% growth.
The UK was up 0.2% — the first rise since 2012.
Colao said the main drivers had been the continuing rapidly increasing demand for data which let people watch films and TV on their mobiles, a growing fixed-line broadband business in Germany and revived growth in Africa, India and Turkey.
But as he prepares to launch a full-blown fixed-line broadband service in the UK at the end of the summer, Colao launched an attack on BT and its ownership of Openreach, the network business which the regulator Ofcom recently said could have to be separated from BT.
Vodafone, like Sky and TalkTalk, has to use Openreach to deliver its broadband to customers in their homes.
“It is a classic case of a monopoly company holding the country to ransom,” said Colao.
“We are used to that across Europe but don’t really expect it in the UK. BT’s priority seems to be buying more expensive football content rather than investing in the fibre network this country needs.”
BT’s control of Openreach has raised competition concerns (Picture: Lynne Cameron, PA)
He wants Ofcom chief executive Sharon White to recommend a break-up of BT, but if she doesn’t he has three demands for an improved Openreach.
“There must be access to fibre and ducts at a reasonable price,” he said.
“The service provided by Openreach must become world class, not the mediocre service we get now. And access to content for everyone must be at a decent rather than exorbitant price.”
Vodafone shares today rose 7.25p, or 3%, to 239.2p.