Mobile phone operator CosmOTE said yesterday that close to a third of the Greek population were on its subscriber book last year, giving it an estimated market share of 38 percent. Active customers at the end of December totaled 3.5 million, an increase of 19 percent. CosmOTE proved itself the market leader last year as it successfully fended off rival Vodafone Panafon and niche player Q-Telecom, said Constantinos Karitsos, telecoms analyst at Kapa Securities. He said Vodafone Panafon which has yet to release last year’s figures, is estimated to have 3.19 million subscribers. Key to CosmOTE’s success in holding onto its lead is its aggressive pricing and marketing strategy. In November it slashed prepay rates by 18 percent and launched a series of competitive programs for the contract sector. CosmOTE garnered a significant share of net new additions last year, gaining 562,806 new subscribers, of which 137,569 came in the final quarter of the year. Prepay customers increased by 88.1 percent and contract users by 11.9 percent, making the last quarter the second best in growth. «This should give the company a 45-46 percent market share in net new additions,» Karitsos said. Prepay users made up 55.8 percent of CosmOTE’s subscriber base last year, with contract users constituting the remaining 44.2 percent. Greece’s mobile penetration rate last year was estimated at 84 percent. Albanian subsidiary AMC continued to soar despite competition from Vodafone’s operation, as it signed up 78,265 net new additions in the final quarter of the year. The company had 501,147 users at the end of 2002, up by 18.5 percent. Ninety-seven percent of users were prepay subscribers. CosmOTE closed at 9.50 euros yesterday, unchanged.