Vodafone, the world's second largest mobile operator, reported better-than-expected 2.2% revenue growth in its first quarter, reflecting a robust performance in Italy and Spain and acceleration in demand in Turkey.

The company said the rise in organic service revenue, which was ahead of market forecasts of 1.4% to 1.9%, boosted its confidence in the outlook for the full year, when it expects to grow core earnings by 4-8%.

The British operator also expects cash flow to jump this year, enabling it to increase dividends, as it eases back on network investment, improves efficiency and tackles intense competition in India by merging with a rival.

Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said the group had made a good start to the year in Europe, helped by demand for data packages and broadband, and growth had accelerated in its African, Middle East and Asia Pacific markets.

Areas of weakness remained in Europe, however.

Growth in Germany halved to 0.6%, from 1.2% in the previous quarter, and although its performance in its problematic British market improved, it was still down 2.7%.

"Overall, this performance gives us confidence in reiterating our outlook for the year," Mr Colao said this morning.

Meanwhile, at Vodafone's Irish operation in Q1 total service revenue increased to €235.1m over the quarter, with underlying revenue growth of 1.1% year on year.

The telecoms company said the underlying performance was driven primarily by growth in fixed business along with growth within Vodafone’s mobile contract-base.

Its total mobile base increased over the quarter with the addition of 20,000 contract customers.

Vodafone’s Irish fixed broadband customer numbers continue to remain strong, with the growth to 264,000 customers in the quarter (+6.9% YoY).