The demand for mobile Internet access and data services such as games and pictures appears to be recession proof, the global head of France Telecom's Orange mobile business said.
Olaf Swantee told reporters in London on Wednesday night that 24 percent of its mobile customers were using 30 megabytes (MB) of data per month.
That figured compared with just 17 percent of the customer base who were using 25 MB in February this year, and it includes customers who took pay as you go and pay monthly contracts. It does not include mobile broadband customers.
Mobile companies across the world have targeted data services and access to the mobile Internet as a way to offset falling revenues from traditional voice services.
Swantee said he expected voice revenues to grow in emerging markets but said he could not see them growing strongly again in mature markets, where he expects a stabilisation.
There are only so many hours in the day that people can talk, he said.
But non voice revenues seem to be quite recession proof, with music services very successful, he said in comments embargoed until Thursday. They have exceeded expectations.
Swantee accepted that the growth of mobile data and their recent trialling of high definition voice services, which provides a clearer sound, would put pressure on their network but said they had invested in their third-generation services.
Orange's British network is also set for a boost from plans to merge with smaller rival T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom.
Swantee repeated the group's stance that similar deals or network sharing agreements would make sense in other markets and said they were looking at potential in-country consolidation, without giving any further details.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Simon Jessop)