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  • UK mobile market Q4 2016 – Nearly back to growth
    UK mobile market Q4 2016 – Nearly back to growth
    April 21, 2017

    UK mobile market Q4 2016 – Nearly back to growth

    UK mobile service revenue growth was -0.1% in Q4, a 0.6ppt improvement from the previous quarter. This was helped by some modest price firming, continued strong data growth, and some inflation in handset prices. In the shorter term, the outlook for market service revenue growth is fairly positive, with ARPU-enhancing pricing moves in evidence, supported by continuing strong data volume growth, and existing customer price increases due to take effect from Q2 2017.

  • Slides for Media & Telecoms: 2017 & Beyond Conference
    Slides for Media & Telecoms: 2017 & Beyond Conference
    April 19, 2017

    Media & Telecoms: 2017 & Beyond Conference transcript

    Enders Analysis co-hosted the annual Media & Telecoms 2017 & Beyond conference in conjunction with Deloitte, Moelis & Company, Linklaters and LionTree, in London on 2 March 2017. The day saw over 450 senior attendees come together to listen to 30 leaders and senior executives of some of the most creative and innovative businesses in the media and telecoms sector, and was chaired by David Abraham.

  • European mobile in Q4 2016
    European mobile in Q4 2016
    April 19, 2017

    European mobile in Q4 2016

    European mobile service revenue growth was unchanged in Q4 on the previous quarter at -0.1%, tantalisingly close to growth but just held back by renewed mobile termination rate cuts in Germany. ‘More-for-more’ tariff changes are becoming increasingly commonplace, as operators increase data bundle sizes to allow for volume demand growth, but nudge up pricing as partial compensation. This has not yet translated into positive revenue growth across Europe as a whole, but increasingly looks like it will do, with a number of moves made in early 2017.
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    February 1, 2017

    BT Q3 2016/17 results: Strong core, let down elsewhere

    BT had a solid enough quarter, with revenue and EBITDA growth dipping due to pre-warned temporary factors, consumer continuing to outgrow business, and very solid operating trends evident, especially in high speed broadband and mobile. This has of course been entirely overshadowed by the profit warning, with prospective weaknesses in UK public sector and international corporate of far more concern than the contained, albeit surprising, accounting irregularities in Italy. BT has a large share of revenue and a much smaller share of profit from corporate/government data network/IT services, which are erratic in nature and arguably in long term decline in their current form, and without major changes they will continue to be so.

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    August 4, 2016

    BT Q1 2016/17 results: Not shabby

    BT Group’s revenue growth was roughly unchanged in the quarter at 0.4%, with continued strong consumer growth mitigated by regulated and structural challenges in the rest of the Group.

    Both broadband and superfast broadband adoption is slowing, but BT is compensating with improving market share for the former, and the prospect of further uplifts from ultrafast for the latter.

    Regulatory uncertainties are likely to continue to weigh, with the current Openreach debate to be closely followed by the not-exactly-unimportant issue of copper and fibre pricing/regulation from April 2017.

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    July 5, 2016

    UK mobile market Q1 2016

    UK mobile service revenue growth marginally improved in Q1, to 0.5% from 0.3% in the previous quarter, with the market now having been stuck at a modest but positive growth level for two full years

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    June 23, 2016

    UK mobile user survey 2015

    Our survey results highlighted disconnects between operator ambition and consumer perceptions across customer loyalty, network performance and quad play, with noteworthy implications for future competitive performance. O2 in particular benefited from strong branding which yielded network confidence and loyalty above that of top network investors, EE and Vodafone. Convergence prospects continue to look supplier driven with consumers reporting little interest in quad play packages even when offered with significant bundle discounts. Recent advertising campaigns have sought to change consumer perceptions of a dichotomy in mobile and fixed broadband provisioning which, if successful, will be to the benefit of all quad play hopefuls. The mobile usage disparities between 16-24 year olds and 55+ users are stark, for instance near 100% of mobile users aged 16-24 own a smartphone while for those 55+, this falls to just over half. The implications are strong for service providers in all manner of industries who are seeing new (younger) users come to market that bear little resemblance to the traditional users around whom much of the operational model is typically built.

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    May 13, 2016

    BT Q4 2015/16 results: Sound investment-driven growth strategy

    BT Group’s revenue growth slipped back to 1.3% in Q4, but this reflected the reversal of various one-off boosts in the previous quarter, with underlying trends still solid across the group, with Consumer and Openreach still the standout performers. We do not think that BT’s approach of keeping the BT and EE consumer brands separate will maximize the cross-selling opportunity, but we consider this opportunity to be modest at best in any case, and therefore not worth the risk of a disruptive integration. On both fixed and mobile, BT is using cost savings to invest in faster speeds, better coverage and improved service to drive competitive advantage and price premia, a very sound strategy in our view.
  • April 12, 2016

    European mobile in Q4 2015 – The challengers’ challenge

    European mobile service revenue growth was flat at -0.8%, while underlying country movements were somewhat more dramatic. The key highlights were Italy returning to positive growth driven by pricing stability, and France showing worsening growth decline for the first time in over two years impacted by challenger telco pricing cuts. An assessment of these challenger telcos highlights a somewhat precarious position, as continued price aggression yields diminishing incremental gains, and they all remain some way from gaining the scale to achieve profitability. The only incentive for challengers to remain aggressive is as an encouragement for their competitors to buy them; increasing regulatory hurdles to consolidation would remove even this incentive, leaving price increases as their only rational route to profitability.
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    March 31, 2016

    UK mobile market Q4 2015: Growth softly softens

    UK mobile service revenue growth dipped down in Q4, but at least remained still just positive at 0.3%. The dip was driven by contract ARPU weakness at the largest three operators, mitigated by strong ARPU growth at the smallest operator H3G. Looking forward, the sources of weakness (growth of SIM-only and tariff policy adjustments) look more temporary than the sources of growth (data volume growth filling up capacity). SIM-only is likely to hit a natural ceiling, whereas data volume growth has no ceiling in sight and the scope for network capacity expansion is limited. With CK Hutchison currently negotiating with the European Commission in regards to the fate of the H3G and O2 merger, there is a high level of uncertainty on the future of the structure of the UK mobile market. Merging the two networks would generate extra capacity and capability, likely increasing competitive intensity, but the precise form this would take is unclear, as is the future of the brands and the identity of the capacity MVNO recipient(s).
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    February 22, 2016

    EE Q4 2015 results: Slowing revenue, accelerating profits

    EE reported solid contract net adds, but weakening contract ARPU, which drove mobile service revenue growth down to -2.5%. However, EBITDA growth was spectacular at 15% in H2, suggesting that much of the subscriber growth is in low revenue high margin segments such as SIM-only and B2B, as well as cost control being strong. EE’s new parent BT is likely to be able to drive further progress in these areas, and the outlook is robust even if quad play demand remains low in the consumer market.
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    December 17, 2015

    European mobile in Q3 2015 – Consolidation before convergen [...]

    European mobile service revenue growth again improved, albeit marginally, with the quarter’s gain driven by declines easing further in what nevertheless remain the three weakest markets: France, Italy and Spain. Generally stabilising pricing environments were a key factor although ARPUs in these markets remain largely in decline, under continued pressure from strong out-of-bundle revenue declines. In a post-consolidation world, H3G/O2 in the UK and Yoigo in Spain will be the only mobile-only MNOs in the top five European mobile markets, effectively cementing a convergence based future. Consolidation trends might point to the prospect of greater price stabilisation but a fresh land grab for the converged market could derail this. Overall, in spite of healthy underlying data trends, we continue to see medium term growth recovery prospects capped at around 1% given precedent from both the UK, where a healthy economy, healthy pricing environment and strong data trends have failed to exceed this level, and Germany, where post-consolidation revenue growth has reverted to negative territory, both due to competition and consolidation.
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    December 10, 2015

    UK mobile market Q3 2015: Stuck at 1%

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    UK mobile service revenue growth remained at 0.9% in Q3, but on an underlying basis growth increased 0.1ppts to 1.4%. This continues a trend of very gradual improvement in underlying growth over the past year, while reported growth has stayed constant at around 1% due to the re-introduction of regulated MTR cuts on 1 May 2015. Within the market, performances were mixed. O2 remains a service revenue growth star performer thanks to strong sustained contract net adds and stable contract ARPU while Vodafone’s service revenue growth fell back into decline as its contract ARPU suffered due to a sharp fall in out-of-bundle revenue. EE’s contract net adds were strong, but its contract ARPU growth remains weak, partly due to its renewed contract net adds performance being supported by low ARPU data devices and B2B. Since the end of the quarter, on 28 October, the CMA provisionally approved the BT/EE acquisition without conditions, and on 30 October, the EC opened an in-depth investigation into H3G/O2. Both acquirers would be wise in our view to be wary of making any rapid changes to branding and/or channel strategy, given that EE and O2 account for nearly 60% of UK gross subscriber additions between them and disrupting these sales will have a significant impact on subscriber growth, as EE’s experience since dropping Orange and T-Mobile has shown.

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    October 29, 2015

    EE Q3 2015 results: Strong subs, ARPU still weak

    EE reported strong mobile contract net adds in Q3, after a string of weaker performances earlier in the year following the closure of Phones 4U and retirement of the Orange and T-Mobile brands. Contract ARPU growth remained at -3.1%, keeping mobile service revenue in modest decline (-1.4%), a disappointing result in comparison to modest positive growth at its rivals in recent quarters, although improving subscriber numbers should start to bridge this gap. Fixed broadband subscriber growth suffered in a competitive quarter, with EE unable to maintain momentum when faced with the launch of BT Sport Europe and corresponding increased marketing spend from Sky.

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    October 14, 2015

    European mobile in Q2 2015

    European mobile service revenue growth improved to the highest in over four years driven by improvements in the three slowest growing markets of late. Out-of-bundle revenues are still declining at a rate of over 10% but data revenue growth trends point to underlying strengths in the revenue profile. Looking at the longer term picture begs the question as to whether the quarter’s improvement can be repeated over the next 18 months, transforming the industry into one with extremely healthy revenue growth of 5%-10%; on balance we are not very optimistic. Two major in-mobile transactions are yet to be approved by the EC, namely H3G/O2 in the UK and an H3G/Wind JV in Italy. The recent precedent from Denmark is somewhat discouraging, although the Danish consolidation was unusual in some respects. Nonetheless comments from the new competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager suggest that regulatory caution towards 4-to-3 mergers is still high. Progress towards convergence is continuing with few operators in a post-consolidation world being either 100% fixed or 100% mobile. Convergence has to date been discount-led and damaging to market revenues, but post-consolidation, operator rhetoric has been reassuringly more focused on intentions for increased investment in both LTE mobile networks and high speed fixed networks.

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    August 26, 2015

    UK mobile market Q2 2015: Modest growth continues

    UK mobile service revenue growth dipped a touch in Q2, falling to 0.9% from 1.0% in the previous quarter, although all of the dip and more was due to the reintroduction of mobile termination rate cuts in the quarter, with underlying growth rising to 1.3%. O2 is now the fastest growing operator in both contract net adds and service revenue growth terms, exceeding even the much smaller H3G, and its revenue growth lead over EE and Vodafone expanded during the quarter. BT’s consumer mobile launch was relatively successful from BT’s perspective, with it garnering 100k subscribers in the first three months, but this appeared to have no impact at all on the mobile operators, which had a relatively strong quarter for contract net adds in spite of this. We conclude that much of the fixed line MVNO base growth is coming from impulsively upgrading prepay users, consumers wanting a spare SIM and other MVNO customer bases – sources that do not threaten the MNOs.

  • June 24, 2015

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2015: Weak ARPU, str [...]

    The UK broadband market remained strong in Q1 2015, backed up by healthy volumes, with a modest weakness in ARPU causing revenue growth to slow to 4.5% from 5.7% in the previous quarter. ARPU growth was particularly weak at BT and Virgin Media, with part of this due to one-off factors, but part due to the dilutive effect of increased promotional activity. Broadband volumes continued to modestly accelerate, pay TV volumes modestly decelerated and line rental growth levelled off. The highlight was high speed broadband, with market net adds continuing to rise, driven by increased marketing and BT’s roll-out reaching more rural areas where the speed improvement is more marked. Since the end of the quarter, Vodafone launched a new consumer dual play product. Launch pricing is at the bottom end of the current price curve, but not well below it, suggesting that it is wisely imitating EE’s approach of cross-selling a profitable product as opposed to deep discounting on broadband to build mobile market share

  • June 17, 2015

    UK mobile market Q1 2015: A little growth, less convergence

    UK mobile service revenue growth continued to improve, rising to 1.2% in Q1, a modest figure but still the best of the five largest European mobile markets, albeit weaker than the UK consumer fixed line market (4%-5%). O2 continued to be the strongest grower of the ‘big 3’, and maintained over 40% share of contract net adds. Both Vodafone and EE appear to have suffered from the demise of Phones 4U, having been its biggest (and latterly its only) network operator suppliers. EE is also suffering from the gradual withdrawal of its Orange and T-Mobile brands, which is forcing it to work harder to both attract and retain customers. Vodafone launched a competitively priced consumer fixed broadband offer on 10 June. EE has shown that there is an opportunity for Vodafone to have some limited success cross-selling broadband through its shops, but O2's mobile-only success and EE's struggles in its mobile business suggest that this will not drive improved mobile performance

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    May 6, 2015

    EE Q1 2015 results: Strong metrics, weaker revenue growth

    EE reported improved mobile service revenue growth in Q1 but it is still shrinking at -1.7%; a disappointing performance now that all of its competitors have moved back into growth. The main causes of its underperformance appear to be the impact of the gradual retirement of the Orange and T-Mobile brands, and the loss of sales from Phones 4U which closed last year, with differentiation through superior 4G not (yet) able to make up for these factors. EE’s fixed line business was the star of the quarter with 50k customers added and 15% revenue growth. It seems to have cracked the formula of cross-selling broadband into its mobile base, a useful skill in the current market context.

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  • April 13, 2015

    European mobile in Q4 2014

    European mobile service revenue growth improved for a fourth consecutive quarter jumping 1.7ppts to -2.7%, the slowest rate of decline in over three years. Easing declines in France, Italy and Spain largely drove the improvement but a full recovery in these markets is still some way away given that all of their growth rates remain below -5%. The UK, and now Germany, are experiencing positive mobile service revenue growth although their improvements in the quarter were more modest. Three announced consolidation transactions have yet to be approved by the regulators although none of these deals are likely to offer much market repair, being either of the wrong kind of deal or being in markets that are growing. Consolidation targets remain in France, Italy and Spain which offer clearer routes to market recovery as seen in Germany where the consolidation of O2/E-Plus has already led to positive rhetoric on medium term market growth prospects. Network investment continues with 4G roll-outs at or over 70% population coverage in all markets and targets being accelerated, supporting long term optimism in the sector. Strong data traffic growth coupled with the growing importance of data to service revenue give a clear focus for operators on value-adding network quality investment, although the impact of pricing competition in some markets could weigh on the ability to capitalise on these trends in the medium term.

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    February 27, 2015

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2014: Growth, invest [...]

    The UK residential communications sector continues to be in rude health, with revenue growth in Q4 accelerating by 1ppt to 5.7%, the strongest it has been for years, with all of the operators enjoying an improvement. Volumes were strong, and ARPU even stronger, with the latter driving most of the revenue growth progress, driven by firm pricing and high speed broadband adoption. Growing revenues and profits in an industry tends to encourage both investment and competition, and this is certainly the case in the fixed telecoms market, as BT announced plans for higher speed services using G.fast and Virgin Media announced a 4 million premises network expansion. The timings suggest that Virgin Media will keep its edge; given historic trends and its network capabilities we expect it to be offering superior speeds to G.fast by the time G.fast hits the mass market. In competitive terms the biggest short term threat is EE, which is growing its broadband base at 15%, and may accelerate further in 2015. Its success appear to stem not so much from the raw appeal of ‘quad play’ bundling as improved performance in the mechanics of cross-selling from physical shops. EE itself may be less of a threat if its planned merger with BT is completed, but Vodafone is launching broadband services in the spring, and H3G/O2 may yet be encouraged into the market.

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    January 28, 2015

    UK mobile user survey: High on networks, low on convergence

    Customer movement between operators shows susceptibility to dynamism in branding; O2 are picking up the majority of EE churners as customers move to the new “cool brand” while EE pull in Vodafone churners tempted by the new “best network”. O2 have the lowest churn though the lion’s share move to Vodafone and H3G churners are more evenly picked up by the other three. Customer perceptions of own operator network quality are high among the big 3 with no less than 75% of customers reporting theirs is the best network. O2 is the best regarded while H3G is the least best regarded highlighting a stark contrast between the (prospective) merging parties. Consumers report little interest in quad play and indeed operators in the both fixed and mobile markets have publicly confirmed the same from other market research. However the arrival of converged players in the form of a merged BT/EE or Vodafone re-entering the fixed space will see operators seeking to change this.

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    December 17, 2014

    BT Everywhere?

    A merger between BT and EE would create a converged operator directly serving around half of the UK adult population with fixed broadband, mobile or both services. We remain sceptical of the direct benefits of quad play and cross-selling, but we can see the benefits of merging the largest fixed and mobile operators under a single brand, and the long term strategic sense of owning both networks in case converged service offerings do become more important. The implications for other market participants are mixed, with benefits in the short term from the distraction of a large merger, and perhaps some regulatory concessions, but a longer term threat from the enlarged brand, and BT having a much enlarged customer base over which to spread content costs.

  • December 5, 2014

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2014: Quad play and [...]

    Market revenue growth in the UK residential communications sector dipped down to 4.5% in Q3, from 5.4% in the previous quarter, but underlying revenue growth actually rose a touch by our estimates. In an intensely competitive quarter, BT lost ground relatively in broadband, with its net adds dropping compared to growth at the others, but BT still had the highest net adds in absolute terms, and continued to lead the way in revenue growth. With BT's mooted bid for a mobile operator and quad play moves being highlighted by several operators, in this report we re-examine the evidence for consumer demand for quad play and find it still wanting. In the UK since 2001 there have been eight attempts at cross-selling between fixed and mobile, with five outright failures (three of which were from BT), two attempts that lost market share after an acquisition but are now growing modestly, and one attempt which has successfully gained modest share. The UK fixed business has better growth and far better margins than the mobile business. BT alone makes more cashflow in the UK than the entire mobile industry put together – the grass may always seem greener on the other side, but in this case it definitely is greener in fixed. The fixed operators have far more to lose than to gain, and for this reason alone they should perhaps be wary in their approach to quad play.