Helio hits 70,000, 100K by next quarter

Helio, the MVNO backed by $440 million from Earthlink and South Korean mobile company SK Telecom, is finally ready to give some subscriber numbers. Because the company is backed by public companies, the announcement is partly as a result of the fact that Earthlink is reporting its earnings tomorrow.

The Los Angeles-based company says it had signed up approximately 70,000 subscribers by the end of 2006 and projects that it will surpass 100,000 users by early in the second quarter of 2007. Launched at the beginning of May 2006, that gives them roughly a year to reach the 100,000 mark. While the service could grow faster over the coming months and years, at a 100K-subscriber per year growth rate the company would reach 300,000 subscribers by May 2009. Now didn’t CEO Sky Dayton once say Helio will have three million subscribers by 2009.

Those subscriber numbers aren’t astoundingly high, considering the investment behind the service, but they are tracking the other venture-backed competitor Amp’d Mobile. Amp’d officially launched in mid-December 2005 and claims that at the end of 2006 it had over 100,000 subscribers.

Helio’s average revenue per user numbers are nothing to scoff at, though, bringing in over $100 per user with an estimated 25% coming in from data services. The company has been rolling out data services, and is also announcing an over-the-air mobile music download service tomorrow. Dayton says the company ended 2006 with an annual revenue run rate in excess of $100 million.

Amp’d said in January that its ARPU was “well over $100/month” as well. Its average revenue from content and data was $30 per month. In other words the two high-end MVNOs are reporting similar numbers.

Dayton wouldn’t say how much the company had spent on marketing so far, though it’s well known that the company has $440 million in backing. Amp’d on the other hand raised $260 million in venture funding and last I heard spent somewhere between $200 million and $300 million just getting the service launched. It’s hard to tell how much either company has spent or will spend bringing in more subscribers. But its safe to say, a whole heck of a lot.