The growth in data revenues was particularly strong in emerging markets, where many consumers do not have access to fixed-line internet services and even held up in the tough Southern European markets.
But the group showed it was still facing tough conditions in southern Europe. Its core profit margin slipped 0.6 percent points due to price cuts in Spain, although at 32.0 percent it was still ahead of a 31.6 percent Reuters poll forecast.
In Italy, a decline in organic service revenue accelerated to 3 percent in the second quarter from 1.5 percent in the first, and Vodafone took an impairment loss of 450 million pounds ($720 million) in relation to its Greek business.
"In the first half of the year we have made good further progress in executing our strategy of delivering growth and value," Chief Executive Vittorio Colao told reporters.
"Although the macro economic outlook is uncertain the diversity of our business gives us the confidence that we will continue to perform strongly in the second half of the year."
The group posted first-half revenue up 4.1 percent to 23.5 billion pounds and core earnings up 2.3 percent to 7.5 billion pounds. Analysts had been expecting group revenue at 23.4 billion pounds and earnings at 7.4 billion pounds.
On the key industry metric of group organic service revenue, which relates to the provision of ongoing services, the group was up 1.3 percent in the second quarter, better than consensus of 1.1 percent.
"Within that, the really encouraging thing was Europe," said Espirito Santo's Draper.
Organic service revenue in Europe, which accounts for 70 percent of the group, was down 1.3 percent, flat on the first quarter and comfortably ahead of forecasts at 1.7 percent.
"In summary a very solid first half with second quarter growth coming through more strongly than expected in Europe and management guidance more confident for the full year," Deutsche Bank said in a note.
"This helps justify the popularity of Vodafone at this time as a relatively safe haven despite various macro concerns, and we reiterate our Buy rating."
The group reiterated its outlook for free cash flow of 6 billion to 6.5 billion pounds, despite missing forecasts due to what it described as a timing issue.
Vodafone has reported ahead of most of the large European telecom firms this quarter, although France Telecom said at the end of October that it had nudged up its annual cash flow target due to tight cost control.
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