News, views and commentary from the telecoms sector across emerging markets and developing countries worldwide

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Report tips China Mobile, MTN, America Movil as 'best postioned to grow' - but does not consider Middle Eastern, Indian players

graphic from Telegeography's GlobalComms Insight

New research from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Insight includes predictions about wireless and broadband subscriber growth globally for the next five years. A key finding seems to be that "growth in the value of the telecoms services market will not keep pace with subscriber growth." This feels right. As the report authors note, subscriber growth these days largely comes from countries with very low GDP per capita - i.e. emerging markets.

This is all fine. I am curious, however, to know how the people behind TeleGeography's GlobalComms Insight selected the eight leading service providers studied in the report and positioned on the graph above. It is not without value to consider the global competitive position and the growth prospects of China Mobile, MTN, America Movil, Vodafone, Telefonica, Verizon, BT and NTT. But wouldn't this report be a lot more interesting if telcos headquartered in the Middle East were put into the mix? I hear so many people articulating the view that these relatively cash-rish players are among the best placed to take advantage of the current challenging economic climate - in terms of finding and securing acquisition targets at knock down prices from sellers wanting to raise cash ASAP.

Where, then, would Etisalat, QTel or Zain sit on the graph?

One aspect of this report which does seem useful is ensuring that China Mobile is discussed. The authors call the giant cellco "one company that has managed to buck the general trend, thanks to the blistering mobile subscriber growth in its home market" and note that even this company, "the world’s largest wireless service provider by subscribers is feeling the pressure, as evidenced by last week’s news that it will expand its global footprint by buying a stake in FarEasTone of Taiwan."

I'd also be interested to see where the report authors would place Bharti Airtel in their calculations. Back in February, I considered the view that the rapidly diversifying market-leading Indian MNO might likewise be compelled by competitive pressures at home to look more seriously at international growth opportunities.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. My viewpoints are simple. MTN will grow very strongly this year, as there is a delay in the 3rd operator coming into Iran. In 2009 itself MTN is expected to acquire another 9 million subscribers. MTN is still going strong in Nigeria and will grow another 25 to 30% this year. With the IPL extravaganza going on in South Africa, acquistions as well as ARPU will be driven up in this market. For operators from India notably Bharti and Reliance the key is going to be acquistions, though India penetrations has only reached around 28%. They need to enter new growth markets soon, which actually the Middle East operators like Etisalat, Zain and Qtel are doing aggressively. Zain is likely to get the Iran license which will be excellent for them. It is a big opportunity loss for Etisalat in terms of growing the customer base. For players like Vodafone and Telefonica the growth will be mid range based as they have few operations in high growth markets. They will mainly rely on growing the data market size further.


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