Free achieves strong growth in face of pandemic

French service provider Free brushed off the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic last year to achieve solid growth, which it attributed to strong take up of fibre and the success of its Freebox Pop box.

Free added 262,000 fixed-line subscribers in France over the course of the year, and added over one million fibre customers to its network.

In mobile, the group added 386,000 subs, including 60,000 in the fourth quarter. The group highlighted the claim that it is now the sixth largest mobile operator in Europe following its acquisition of Polish operator Play and rollout in Italy, with 42.7 million customers.

Free has now passed 19.9 million premises with its fibre network in France, up six million on the previous year. The company had 6.722 million fixed-line customers at the end of the year, including 2.803 million fibre customers.

In Poland, where its acquisition of Play gave it a base of over 12 million active mobile customer, the group also has 126,000 fixed line customers, of which 118,000 are also TV customers.

The group posted revenues of €5.87 billion for the year, up 10.1%, and said that its EBITDAaL had grown by 18.4%. to €1.96 billion ARPU from fixed line in France stood at €32.30.

CEO Thomas Reynaud said that the group had found a path to growth in the face of the pandemic, and added that the company had also been transformed during 2020 into a European telecom group thanks to the success of its Italian operation and acquisition of Play.

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