The Croatian segment continued its positive operational performance in 2017, which was due to the growth of its fixedline business and enduring solid mobile trends. The market environment was characterised by the strong demand for larger data packages, bundles and convergent products. Vipnet's mobile business profited from the push towards the higher-value tariff portfolio and mobile Wi-Fi routers, while trends in the fixed-line business remained encouraging on the back of the sales focus on broadband and TV services. The fixed-line business was further strengthened by the acquisition of Metronet. The company has been consolidated as of 1 February 2017. In Q3 2017, Vipnet introduced a new convergent portfolio, with more data included and higher speeds, and introduced new data options for its mobile Wi-Fi routers.
In the year under review, mobile subscribers increased by 3.1 % year-on-year. There were losses in the prepaid segment while the contract subscriber base continued to rise due to the strong growth of mobile Wi-Fi routers as well as the ongoing general shift from prepaid to contract in the market. This led to a value enhancement of the customer base. The mobile market share increased from 36.1 % in the previous year to 36.5 % in the year under review. In the fixed-line business, revenue-generating units (RGUs) rose by 1.3 % yearon-year (reported: +5.5 %), driven primarily by the ongoing solid demand for TV and fixed-line broadband products.
In the Croatian segment, total revenues rose by 2.6 % yearon-year (reported: +9.2 %). This development was attributable primarily to the strong growth in the fixed-line business as well as the significant increase in visitor roaming due to greater elasticity in data usage. Excluding these positive roaming effects, Croatia also saw a rise in revenues from mobile services in the year under review. Equipment revenues declined despite higher sales volumes as revenues per device decreased.
The average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) increased from EUR 11.9 in 2016 to EUR 12.2 in 2017 due to visitor roaming as well as the strong demand for Wi-Fi routers. On a reported basis, the average monthly revenue per fixed line (ARPL) increased from EUR 23.6 in 2016 to EUR 28.0 in the year under review. This was due to the consolidation of Metronet with a higher ARPL. Together with the strong growth in fixed-line RGUs, this led to a 34.6 % increase in reported ARPL-relevant revenues year-on-year.
The 0.5 % increase in costs and expenses in the year under review (reported: +5.4 %) was primarily driven by higher roaming costs as well as revenue-related salesforce costs and commissions. The slightly higher costs and expenses were more than offset by revenue growth, which led to an EBITDA increase of 9.6 % year-on-year (reported: +22.4 %). As a result of the higher depreciation and amortisation, primarily due to the brand value amortisation in the amount of EUR 7.5 mn in conjunction with Group-wide rebranding, this led to a 17.2 % lower operating income (reported: +32.1 %). Excluding the effects of the brand value amortisation, the operating income increased by 32.6 % year-on-year (reported: 111.4 %).