Telefonica wins internet clients in Nov, mobile exodus continues

Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:37am EST

* Telefonica's package attracts 45,000 broadband clients

* Vodafone leads mobile client losses, sheds 287,000

* Virtual operators, Orange, winning out in price war

MADRID, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Spain's biggest telecoms company, Telefonica S.A., attracted 45,000 new broadband clients in November in its home market but shed another quarter of a million mobile customers as recession-hit Spaniards ditch their cellphones.

The company which is fighting to stem client bleed by introducing a bundled internet, phone and TV package in October has lost over 2 million mobile connections following its March decision to stop subsidising smartphones.

Data from Spain's telecoms watchdog released on Wednesday showed Telefonica gained more broadband clients than all its competitors put together, with cable operators gaining 6,000 new customers and other operators attracting 36,000 clients.

However, Telefonica's mobile operator Movistar lost around 252,000 customers in November.

"The mobile sector recorded another month of serious customer losses, with a decline of 452,804 connections," telecoms regulator the CMT said in a statement.

The November numbers were slightly better than October, when Telefonica led operator losses by shedding 284,000 mobile customers.

November's figures for losses in the sector were slightly better than a record loss of 486,000 mobile clients in October.

In November, Vodafone lost 287,000 mobile clients, taking the lead from Telefonica, and the Britain-based operator is in talks with labour unions to dismiss up to a quarter of its workforce in Spain.

Cheap operators like Teliasonera's Yoigo and virtual mobile operators have benefited from a recent vicious price war in Spain. Virtual mobile operators have no infrastructure of their own but rent capacity from established providers, selling services on to consumers.

Virtual operators now account for over 6 percent of the Spanish mobile market.

Some 480,000 customers switched their number to another network in November, with virtual operators and Orange, which still offers subsidies, leading the pick-up from other networks.

Mobile tariffs have fallen 27 percent over the last three years in Spain, where the unemployment rate stands at 25 percent.

The number of mobile connections in Spain fell 4.1 percent year-on-year in November to 56 million, the CMT said.