SANTANDER.- Vodafone sees glowing prospects for its position as Spanish market leader in third-generation (3G) mobile phone services, with 60 percent of its new customers opting for net-friendly handsets, more than overall market leader Telefonica.
“One in four of our customers have UMTS (mobile Web access technology),” Vodafone’s Spanish chief executive Francisco Roman told reporters late on Monday, adding that data downloads now represent 5 percent of the group’s Spanish turnover.
Vodafone has more than 3.6 million UMTS clients in Spain, far ahead of Telefonica’s 2 million. Sales of cellphones with Web access are also benefiting from the use of new third-generation mobile technology such as HSDPA.
“Growth prospects for the coming years are very positive, we can double or even triple that (3.6 million customers) figure,” Roman said, adding that 60 percent of new customers are opting for third-generation handsets.
The group still wants to offer broadband Internet access via ADSL, but Roman said it was not a priority. Vodafone has been rumored to be interested in buying the local Swedish unit of Tele2 to that end, although the UK-based group has consistently declined to comment on the matter.
Roman said the group was studying other options so as to be able to offer an alternative Web access in coming months.
Vodafone is the second-biggest overall phone operator in Spain with 15 million customers versus Telefonica’s 22 million.