2018 Global Mobile Operators - Regional Leaders - Overview and Statistics

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Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 91

Lead Analyst: Kylie Wansink

Contributing Analysts: Phil Harpur, Henry Lancaster

Publication Overview

The global mobile industry has provided an opportunity for mobile operators to expand their operations beyond their domestic markets. Mobile saturation has occurred in many of the developed markets and this 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.

This annual BuddeComm publication provides information on key trends influencing the global mobile sector followed by an overview of each region’s mobile market. The report provides valuable subscriber data on the International and Domestic mobile operators for the regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and the Pacific region. It also includes brief case studies on the mobile market and leading operators in the countries of Germany, Hong Kong Mexico and Zimbabwe.

Subjects include:

  • Global - mobile communications market and financial insights;
  • Africa - mobile market and operator subscriber data;
  • Asia - mobile market and operator subscriber data;
  • Europe - mobile market and operator subscriber data;
  • Latin America - mobile market and operator subscriber data;
  • Middle East - mobile market and operator subscriber data;
  • Pacific region - mobile market and operator subscriber data;
  • Brief case study on the mobile markets of Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Zimbabwe.

Researchers:- Kylie Wansink, Phil Harpur, Henry Lancaster
Current publication date:- August 2018 (3rd Edition)

Executive Summary

Pan-regional operators gain valuable experiences by operating across markets

The vibrant and competitive global mobile sector has witnessed the emergence of pan-regional players in recent years as large operators looked to expand outside their home base in order to grow revenues and subscribers.

These operators which now exist in multiple markets; are able to capitalise on scale as well as on applying the experiences gained in one market to benefit services in another. This increasingly applies to emerging technologies, including FttP, variations of LTE, and 5G. As such, these operators are increasingly morphing from being providers of mobile voice and data services to being providers of a full range of converged services, incorporating mobile and fixed-line services as well as digital media.

Europe provides a good example of this, as while there are a large number of operators across Europe, there are also a few pan-regional players, including Telefónica (O2), Orange Group, Telekom Deutschland (T-Mobile), Telenor and Telia Company. These operators are developing valuable knowledge of the various markets in the region and increasing their skill-sets and abilities.

5G is a key area of focus for these operators as well, with some early commercial launches expected by late 2019 while a more extensive availability of services is anticipated during 2020. Factors which will influence operators’ decisions on timing the launch of 5G within European markets include the affordability and availability of 5G-compatible smartphones, and the availability of sufficient spectrum assigned for 5G.

Latin America also has a number of operators within its region - and there are a few pan-regional players such as Telefónica and América Móvil which operate in many markets. These regional operators have responded to competition by expanding their multi-sector offerings, incorporating mobile and fixed-line services as well as digital media.

While domestic mobile operators account for the vast majority of all mobile operators across Asia, international mobile operators are highly active across this vast region. There are 16 international mobile network companies operating within the Asian region across 21 of the 34 Asian countries. Asia also has a smaller but fast growing MNVO market. Hong Kong in particular is a very active in this area.

A few countries within Africa retain incumbent monopolies for the provision of services, while others have seen consolidation among players (largely due to operators such as Airtel and Tigo exiting certain markets or the failure of some poorly managed enterprises). Overall, there is effective competition within the mobile sector. This has also encouraged competition for services based on upgraded technologies, which in turn has encouraged investment.

The operators face many challenges in the Middle East, including the rise of competition; the impact of civil conflict upon the region, difficult topography, variances in regulatory laws and differing economic conditions. The operators also need to keep pace with the rapid rate of development in telecoms on a global level and this requires huge capital expenditure as well as an appropriately skilled workforce.

Looking at North America, operators in the USA have been engaged in a range of acquisitions in recent years as they expand the reach of their networks, rationalise spectrum holdings or move into other telecom sectors to improve their service offerings.

In the emerging markets of the South Pacific, there is scope for regional operators to enter the industry as many of these countries have small populations and economies, combined with challenging geographic conditions and relatively low mobile penetrations. Competition in many Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) has opened up in recent years and Digicel is one operator which has developed a strong presence in the South Pacific region

Key developments:

  • The mobile network operators (MNOs) will continue to face daunting data demands from customers.
  • While networks can at times be strained, the MNOs are continually adding capabilities and applications in an effort to reduce their overall costings.
  • China Mobile continues to dominate the mobile industry in China.
  • In many cases the African markets are dominated by only a few international providers.
  • There continues to be some consolidation within the European market.
  • While there are a number of operators in Latin America, there are a few pan-regional players such as Telefónica and América Móvil which operate in many markets.
  • Changing industry conditions and government intervention has created competition in many telecoms markets of the Middle East.
  • Following extensive trials, operators in the USA are on the cusp of launching commercial 5G services.
  • There are only a few pan-regional players in the Pacific region.

Kylie Wansink

August 2018

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