Omnitel Profits Nearly Triple in First Half

Omnitel Pronto Italia SpA, Europe's second largest mobile phone operator, saw net profits for the first half of its fiscal year rise by 182 percent to 661 billion lire (US$347 million) in 1999, the company announced today.

Revenues were up 83 percent to 3.2 trillion lire, said Omnitel, which offers GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) service.

Omnitel's customer base broke the 8 million threshold on July 9, registering an increase of 1.7 million customers, confirming the company's position as the second mobile operator in Europe, according to the statement. Mobile telephony growth continued apace in Italy, reaching a penetration rate of 42 percent of the population, Omnitel said.

Omnitel 2000, the company's new Internet portal, had an average of 50,000 hits daily during its first 15 days of operation, Omnitel said. Access to the portal through voice recognition technology and WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) will be available from July 20, the company said.

The company is currently controlled by Mannesmann AG of Germany, following a successful takeover bid by its former Italian partner, Olivetti SpA, for Telecom Italia SpA.

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