T-Mobile Growth Slows
By Carlo Longino, Thu May 13 20:45:00 GMT 2004

Record subscriber additions in the US offset slowing business in Europe for the German-based carrier.

T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom missed forecasts, though the mobile unit continues to drive the company. T-Mobile grew its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) 10.8 percent over last year's first quarter, though it wasn't much of an increase from the previous quarter.

T-Mobile USA added 1.2 million customers (half the company's total first-quarter global adds), and EBITDA there grew by 25 percent to EUR 405 million, though the strength of the euro against the dollar weakened results a bit. In its home German market, T-Mobile struggled, as EBITDA shrank 5 percent, while revenues rose slightly in the UK, the Czech Republic and more strongly in the Netherlands, while it shrank in Austria.

T-Mobile said the number of MMS sent rose 45 percent to 12.2 million, and data accounted for 17 percent of ARPU in Europe and 4 percent in the USA, most of that comes from messaging and ringtone downloads, as the company said just 5.5 million people had used its T-Zones WAP services or photo messaging during March, less than 9 percent of its total 63.4 million subscribers worldwide.

Rumors have bounced around that the company might be looking to sell its US unit, which is the country's fifth largest mobile operator, but it's been carrying T-Mobile for a few quarters now, making such a selloff unlikely. The carrier's recent 3G launch in Germany, as well as general economic weakness there, could make the second quarter, too, difficult there.