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European Mobile Operators

Most of Europe’s mobile markets are saturated, with only France in early 2010 having mobile penetration below 100%. Continuing growth has largely shifted to the 3G sector - stimulated by emerging technologies such HSPA and LTE - as subscribers migrate from GSM networks. Average mobile (SIM card) penetration across Europe reached about 125% by early 2010 while still sustaining subscriber growth of between 5% and 8%, though some of the more saturated markets have lower growth of only 2-3%.

Operators had hoped that the introduction of 3G would increase ARPU but this has not yet been the case. It is likely that overall data ARPU will fall for the next two to three years at least - the increase in data ARPU for some operators will be insufficient to counteract the effect of falling voice revenues. Growth in the overall market will stagnate through to 2011 as operators reduce prices in the face of competition from MVNOs and resellers, as continuing regulatory measures reduce roaming and interconnection revenue.

As for mobile Value Added Services (VAS), these markets have been artificially stymied because of the high charges that apply to them, and because mass popular use of such services could easily lead to network congestion. These restrictions are being addressed rapidly by ongoing investment in network upgrades and new business models which encourage mobile data use.

Markets highlights:

- Austria’s mobile market is fiercely contested by four network operators and a growing number of MVNOs and resellers;

- In Spain competition between the four network operators has driven down the cost of calls by more than a quarter since 2005. About a dozen MVNOs have been launched, further intensifying price competition;

- Russia has the largest mobile market in Europe. The rapidly growing sector is dominated by three major service providers – MTS, VimpelCom and MegaFon;

- Hutchison Telecommunications is a leading mobile player in Europe, with operations in Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the UK. The company operates its mobile division under the 3 Group brand;

- Deutsche Telekom manages its extensive mobile operations through its wholly-owned subsidiary T-Mobile International. T-Mobile owns network operators in Germany (T-Mobile Deutschland), the UK (T-Mobile UK), Austria (T-Mobile Austria), and the Netherlands (T-Mobile Netherlands). In the Czech Republic it has a majority stake in T-Mobile Czech Republic, a major holding in Poland (PTC), as well as indirect shares in Belarus. In addition to these complete and partial ownerships of T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom is represented with mobile operators in Hungary (T-Mobile Hungary) Croatia (T-Mobile Croatia), Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovakia;

- Orange’s main markets are France and the UK, where it is a top-three carrier. Orange has a 100% interest in its mobile operations in Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, France and the UK, and also has stakes in several other European operators, including Germany’s MobilCom and Belgium’s Mobistar. It also has a reach in Romania, Poland and Slovakia.

You can read more about this market in Paul Budde's Europe Mobile report...

This report covers developments among Europe’s mobile network operators, assessing their strengths and strategies in a market characterised by increasing competition from MVNOs and resellers.

Researcher: Henry Lancaster, Paul Kwon
Publication date: April 2010
Published by Paul Budde
Single User PDF license - GBP 445 (Order online)
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