2017 Global Mobile Operators - Regional Leaders - Overview and Statistics

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Last updated: 21 Mar 2017 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 130

Lead Analyst: Kylie Wansink

Contributing Analysts: Phil Harpur, Paul Budde, Henry Lancaster

Publication Overview

Mobile developments continue to shape the global landscape and the mobile sector has become a critical element to most countries of the world, providing important social and economic benefits. Amongst this vibrant and competitive sector have emerged a number of countries, and in turn operators, which can be described as regional leaders in terms of size and mobile subscriber base. This report has selected a number of such countries to highlight and provide information and statistics on the major mobile operators and MVNOs.

Subjects include:

  • Overview of global mobile market including key trends;
  • Key global telecoms statistics and identification of top global mobile carriers;
  • Regional mobile market overview for: Asia, Australia, North America, Africa, Europe, Latin America, Middle East;
  • Mobile market overview for the selected regional countries including: South Africa; China; India; Australia; Fiji; Papua New Guinea; USA; France; Bahrain and Brazil.
  • Information and statistics on the major mobile operators and MVNOs (where applicable) operating in each country.

Researchers:- Kylie Wansink, Paul Budde, Phil Harpur, Henry Lancaster
Current publication date:- March 2017 (2nd Edition)

Executive Summary

International expansion has strengthened the operations of many mobile operators

In 2017 the global mobile market has its sights firmly set on the opportunities offered through mobile data as well as looking for potential new revenues streams presented by the enterprise sector, data mining, 5G and international expansion.

Mobile saturation has occurred in many of the developed markets and this has forced some of the operators to look for new opportunities – particularly those offered by expanding regionally or internationally. This has occurred in most regions of the world – and as a result some operators have become powerful and dominant regional leaders.

In Latin America, for example, the mobile market continues to be dominated by a small number of operators which each have businesses in multiple countries.  These include Telefónica Group; Mexico’s América Móvil, trading as Telcel in its domestic market and as Claro in the remaining 16 markets in the region; Telecom Italia, AT&T Mexico and Millicom International. The dominance of these operators is being gradually eroded however as a result of efforts by a number of national regulators to facilitate the entry of MVNOs and to encourage the participation of smaller players in spectrum auctions.

In the more developed markets of Asia, growth is shifting away from a focus on subscriber numbers  and towards the expansion of new generation platforms and increased data usage driven by value-added services and increased ARPUs. There are those companies such as SingTel, Vodafone, and Axiata (formerly Telekom Malaysia International) that have built a substantial presence around the Asian region beyond their own domestic market through their shareholdings in operators in multiple other markets.

In the Pacific region; the Australian mobile market is dominated by the three major mobile network operators Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone (VHA), though there are numerous MVNOs which have a significant market share. These have been able to offer LTE services on a wholesale basis since early 2016, thus encouraging growth in the LTE sector and cementing the role which MVNOs play in the overall market.

Fiji is one of the telecoms leaders in the South Pacific region, along with Papua New Guinea. Similar to many developing nations, it is heavily reliant on mobile technologies rather than fixed lines. The percentage of unique mobile subscribers in Fiji sits at around 69%. Vodafone Fiji Limited (VFL) and Digicel Fiji are the major mobile operators and the only MVNO is Australian company, Inkk Mobile which operates on VFL’s network.

Three mobile service operators provide services in Papua New Guinea including Digicel, Bmobile (Vodafone), and Citifon (Telikom PNG). However, in February 2017 it was announced that Dataco, Bmobile and Telikom PNG would be merged together to form Kumul Telikom. The three entities would be able to share resources and infrastructure, making it potentially more cost effective and competitive.

Although there are a large number of network operators across the African continent, and also smaller niche MVNO players, there are also a small number of pan-regional network operators. These include Millicom, Orange Group, Vodacom and Bharti Airtel. Some rationalisation of their operations continues as these players adjust their strategies to fit in with market positions and expectations.

There are a number of companies which have a large presence in the Middle East. Zain, Ooredoo and MTN are three examples of companies operating in multiple markets and the international players of Orange and Vodafone also operate in region.

As with Latin America and Africa, the European region is notable for having half a dozen pan-European operators with interests in several key markets. These main players include Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Vodafone Group, Hutchison and TeliaSonera. There has been much jostling among these operators as they seek to strengthen their presence in particular markets. This has in turn caused some disquiet among national regulators and European competition authorities, which are keen to preserve a quorum of key players (generally four) within a given market.

This BuddeComm publication provides a global overview of the mobile market, supported by statistics as well as an overview of the mobile markets for each major region of the world. Country case studies for each region are also included, along with identification of the major MNOs and MVNOs operating in each region/country.

Key developments:

  • Data mining will be the next driver of mobile revenue;
  • Mobile operators need to rethink their business models;
  • For new ideas, the industry should look towards the OTT players;
  • Operators in Latin America will need to invest in LTE infrastructure and enhance their mobile data and broadband offerings in a bid to secure revenue growth;
  • Whilst there are still developing markets in Asia which are continuing to grow their mobile subscriber base at high annual rates, total market growth in the region has eased considerably in the last few years. This is not surprising given that a significant number of markets have well and truly saturated over the last year or so.
  • Digicel, which has an expanding business across Samoa and Fiji in the Pacific, built a $500 million mobile network in PNG, becoming the country’s largest non-mining investor;
  • Although ARPU remains relatively low for operators, considering the level of disposable income in the region, Africa remains a key area for investment among players;
  • There are several dozen MVNOs in the US market, most of them small and with a regional focus;
  • While population increases across Europe mean that there is a steady influx of new mobile subscribers, the market has a sufficiently high penetration rate that growth is largely lateral, in that subscribers are migrating from 2G to 3G and LTE networks. As a result, the proportion of 2G subscribers is falling sharply, and while there remains steady, if slow, growth in the 3G sector this will also begin to fall from late 2017 or 2018 as subscribers shift to LTE networks. This movement is being encouraged by network operators which hope to capitalise on revenue derived from greater take-up of mobile broadband and data services;
  • Although MVNOs were late to arrive in the Middle East, several have launched services and captured market share. FRiENDi and Virgin Mobile MEA are two notable MVNOs which operate in several markets and there are a number of domestic players as well.

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