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Swiss Salt readies for high-fiber diet after buoyant Q2

Iliad-owned Swiss operator Salt has just completed a pretty active second quarter (Q2) of 2021 when it also created the foundations for its evolution into a mobile and fiber services provider.

The operator proclaims that its long-term partnership with Swisscom on fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) will now allow it to establish itself as a "fully convergent national telecom provider positioned for continued strong growth."

The agreement, formed in April this year, gives Salt access to more than 3 million households by 2025. In 2020, Switzerland had about 3.8 million households in total, with a population of around 8.6 million, according to government statistics.

The Swisscom deal has also allowed Salt to put behind it an unfortunate episode when a planned joint venture with Sunrise, called Swiss Open Fiber, was dissolved following the merger of Sunrise with Liberty Global-owned cable operator UPC.

Healthy trends

Salt currently remains a mostly mobile business, reporting 15,200 mobile postpaid net adds in Q2 and a customer base of 1,340,400 by the end of June. The operator does sell fixed broadband services under Salt Home, and although it said it achieved strong growth here it did not reveal subscriber figures. Salt did note that it exceeded 100,000 B2B subscribers in April 2021.

Salt reported an increase in operating revenue of 4.9% year-on-year to 228.8 million Swiss francs (US$249.5 million), which it said was supported by continued growth in broadband and mobile service revenue growth and a recovery in roaming.


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This resulted in an EBITDA increase of 11.8% to CHF112.9 million ($123 million), and an EBITDA margin of 44.6%. Salt also noted that its operating revenue and EBITDA for the quarter increased above pre-pandemic levels "and show a healthy growth trend." Free cash flow for the quarter stood at CHF60.3 million ($65.7 million).

While it clearly has ambitious growth targets, Salt is still a relative minnow on the Swiss market. Swisscom reported net revenue of over CHF2 billion ($2.2 billion) from its Swiss business for Q2 2021, while Sunrise UPC recorded CHF751.7 million ($820 million) in revenue for the same period.

Swisscom's update on its FTTH build will also be of interest to Salt: the incumbent said it has now upgraded more than 1.8 million households to FTTH. By the end of 2025, FTTH coverage is set to increase to up to 60%.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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