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    April 8, 2019

    The North heads south: European mobile in Q4 2018

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    European mobile service revenue growth dropped to -1.3% – its lowest level in three years – particularly disappointing as growth should be bouncing back post-EU roaming tariff cuts. Having enjoyed relatively favourable dynamics in 2018, the UK and Germany are facing marked changes in momentum from here. Regulation limiting intra-EU call prices could hit hard – up to 6% of revenues and 20% of EBITDA in the UK, although other EU countries may be less exposed due to lower tariffs currently.
  • July 26, 2018

    The drive for convergence: a value-destructive strategy

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    Many European telecoms operators are pursuing a fixed/mobile convergence strategy on the pretext that the addition of mobile reduces churn. We see no evidence of churn reduction from this strategy. Discounts required to encourage take-up of fixed/mobile services are often value-destructive, even before competitor reaction: a 10% bundle discount necessitates a 2ppt improvement in churn to wash its face economically. M&A premia on the basis of convergence synergies raise the hurdle even higher. Most UK operators offer very limited discounts on fixed/mobile bundles for now, sensibly focusing on enhanced services. Vodafone is the most aggressive, albeit less so than it is elsewhere. All UK players should hope that it stays this way.
  • June 20, 2018

    European mobile in Q1 2018: North–South divide to exacerbate

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    In this report we show our analysis of revenue growth trends for mobile operators in the top five European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). The historical analysis is based on the published results of the operators, although they include our estimates where their data is inconsistent or incomplete, and we have updated previous period figures where better information has come to light. A copy of the underlying data in spreadsheet format is available to our subscription clients on request.
  • May 15, 2018

    Covert growth in UK mobile

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    The UK mobile market is growing strongly – we estimate revenues by 5% and EBITDA by 8% in 2017 – excluding one-off regulatory drags and the loss of non-profit-generating handset revenue. Regulatory price cuts end in mid-2018, and the handset effect will disappear from all reported figures from April 2018, leaving scope for very positive headline growth next year – considerably better than its European comparators and the sluggish UK fixed market. The outlook for the UK mobile industry is the best it has been in a decade, with significant growth in data demand, price increases, some supply constraints, rational competition, and major regulatory drags rapidly fading.          
  • UK mobile market Q4 2016 – Nearly back to growth
    UK mobile market Q4 2016 – Nearly back to growth
    December 18, 2017

    European mobile in Q3 2017: Still growing (just)

    European mobile service revenue growth declined this quarter to 0.3%, likely due in large part to the increased negative impact from the European roaming surcharge cuts, which we estimate at around 0.5-1.0ppts for Europe as a whole. The continued growth was supported by continued ‘more-for-more’ price increases coupled with strong data volume growth. Partially countering this, there has been a step up in competition at the low end in some markets, often driven by the smaller operators. Looking forward, the negative EU roaming impact is likely to decline from next quarter given the end of the summer holiday season, and on balance we would expect positive price increase trends to overcome negative low end competitive trends, at least in the short term. This might change in 2018, as Iliad launches in Italy, and recently consolidated operators become more of a threat.    
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  • June 29, 2017

    European mobile in Q1 2017: Stuck at zero

    European mobile service revenue growth remained stuck at zero in Q1, with a heightened impact from the mobile termination rate cuts in Germany and price promotional activity in southern Europe mitigating improving markets in the UK and France.‘More-for-more’ price rises continued both during the quarter and after, and appear to be more widespread than the 2016 increases. This should be driving revenue growth at a healthier rate than zero, and may well do as out-of-bundle revenue declines fade away in significance and regulated MTR and roaming cuts annualise out. The regulatory impact should improve next quarter, as the UK MTR impact drops, Germany at least gets no worse, and the roaming impact has a lull prior to the ‘free roaming’ mandate taking effect towards the end of the quarter. From Q3, however, the ‘free roaming’ effect will be in full force, and will negatively impact operators in northern European and smaller European countries in particular

  • 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.
  • 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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    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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    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.

  • June 25, 2015

    European mobile in Q1 2015: Another improvement, but not in Spain

    European mobile service revenue growth improved once more in Q1, rising 1.1ppts to -1.6%, continuing a trend of underlying growth improvement that started in Q3 2014. The improvement was mainly driven by easing declines in France and Italy but deteriorating performance in Spain meant that Europe-wide growth did not improve by as much as in the last two quarters. Pricing stabilisation appears again to be the main driver of recovery (in those countries that are recovering) with more rational pricing allowing operators to monetise rapid data usage growth. However, more price cut moves have been made in France since the end of the quarter, Italy remains an inherently unstable market and Spain again suffered this quarter from convergence discounts. As data usage continues to grow rapidly, customer concern for high quality data networks increases, which makes investment in superior 4G networks a clearer differentiator for operators to convey to customers. The UK market leads the EU5 in this regard, and has taken advantage through rationally priced tiered data plans, but this effect spreading to the rest of the EU5 is a source of optimism as 4G roll-outs continue across Europe.

  • 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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    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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    September 25, 2014

    European mobile in Q2 2014: Underlying weakens again

    European mobile service revenue growth improved by 0.5ppts to -7.2% in Q2 2014, but all of this and more was driven by a reduced regulatory impact; underlying growth has been stuck at around 6% for the last four quarters, with progress in some areas consistently being countered by further pricing pressure. Industry consolidation has progressed to some extent, but would have had little impact in the quarter. Further in-country mobile/mobile mergers are more than likely but uncertainty driven by the changing European Commission may be delaying decisions to move forward. The UK example shows that consolidation is not necessary for market repair, but in the present environment the smaller operators in continental Europe have every incentive to be as disruptive as possible to encourage their acquisition, so further mergers cannot come soon enough.

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    July 8, 2014

    European mobile in Q1 2014: Underlying remains weak, but consolid [...]

    European mobile service revenue growth improved to -7.6% in Q1 2014 from -9.0% in the previous quarter, but most of the improvement came from a drop in the regulated MTR cut impact, with underlying growth only improving 0.2ppts. This is in spite of continued improvements in GDP growth and the highest level of consumer confidence in six years, confirming that the often-blamed economic conditions actually have been having little impact on the market, with competitive intensity the real cause. For this very reason, the approval by the EC of in-market mergers in Germany and Ireland has been warmly welcomed by the industry and investors. Our view is that market repair is dependent on a change of attitude of the incumbents towards long term investment and away from chasing short term subscriber share via price discounting; consolidation may well help with this, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient.
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    March 24, 2014

    European mobile in Q4 2013: Focused on consolidation

    European mobile service revenue growth again disappointed in Q4, dropping slightly from -8.9% to -9.1%, with underlying revenue growth dropping a little further from -6.0% to -6.3%, again reaching a record low. There had been hopes that improved GDP growth would drive a volume rebound, that price declines would start to annualise out, and that declining out-of-bundle usage would wane in its impact as this usage declined. In the event, ongoing price competition from smaller operators, MVNOs and quad play offerings, combined with surging use of OTT communications platforms, have dominated trends. In the medium term, the development of 4G and Vodafone's Project Spring may bring some much needed network differentiation back to the market, allowing pricing power to return to the larger operators. However, it will be 2015-2016 before these factors come into play: in the short term, the main source of optimism is consolidation.

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    December 3, 2013

    European mobile in Q3 2013: Improving to minus nine

    In this presentation we show our analysis of revenue growth trends for mobile operators in the top five European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). The historical analysis is based on the published results of the operators, although they include our estimates where their data is inconsistent or not complete. A copy of the underlying data in spreadsheet format is available to our subscription clients on request

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    September 19, 2013

    European mobile in Q2 2013: Still terrible; investment and consol [...]

    In this presentation we show our analysis of revenue growth trends for mobile operators in the top five European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). The historical analysis is based on the published results of the operators, although they include our estimates where their data is inconsistent or not complete. A copy of the underlying data in spreadsheet format is available to our subscription clients on request

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    June 4, 2013

    European mobile revenue growth and outlook Q1 2013: Hitting a nad [...]

    In this presentation we show our analysis of revenue growth trends for mobile operators in the top five European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). The historical analysis is based on the published results of the operators, although they include our estimates where their data is inconsistent or not complete. A copy of the underlying data in spreadsheet format is available to our subscription clients on request

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    June 2, 2013

    UK mobile market Q1 2013: 4G progresses but does not transform

    Overall UK mobile revenue growth slipped slightly in Q1, dropping 0.4ppts to -4.3%, although, taking into account the leap year effect, underlying growth likely improved a touch, marking the second quarter of growth being at least stable. EE announced 4G subscriber figures for the first time, reporting 318k subscribers at the end of the quarter, a very respectable figure given coverage, handset and price tier limitations. We expect this figure to grow strongly as coverage rolls out and 4G handset availability spreads, but the 4G revenue premium is still unlikely to be significant in 2013. The outlook for revenue growth in the rest of 2013 is fairly positive – the MTR impact will partly drop out from Q2 onwards, boosting reported revenue by over 2ppts, some mid-contract price increases will take effect, and pricing (so far) has remained reasonably stable.

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    June 26, 2012

    UK mobile user survey 2012: networks over handsets (apart from th [...]

    In this report we show the findings of our 2012 UK mobile user survey. The report is a wide ranging analysis of the mobile market based on our consumer research, focusing on the competitive landscape among the mobile operators and smartphone manufacturers, and the changing consumer behaviour that has and will continue to impact the market

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    June 26, 2012

    UK mobile user survey 2012: networks over handsets (apart from th [...]

    In this report we show the findings of our 2012 UK mobile user survey. The report is a wide ranging analysis of the mobile market based on our consumer research, focusing on the competitive landscape among the mobile operators and smartphone manufacturers, and the changing consumer behaviour that has and will continue to impact the market

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    May 2, 2012

    Everything Everywhere Q1 2012 results: Encouraging volume bounce [...]

    EE's subscriber growth in Q1 was solid enough given a market slowdown, but disappointing given T-Mobile's Full Monty tariff launch. With O2's ‘On and On' launched in late March, the outlook for subscriber growth will be tougher in the rest of 2012. Service revenue growth was more encouraging, improving by 1.5 ppts after a disappointing Q4. This appears to have been largely volume driven (i.e. existing users using their handsets more), which is encouraging for the operators yet to report Q1 figures (i.e. Vodafone and O2). The company's main competitive weapon going forward should be the quality of its network – even post-consolidation it will have more 3G sites than any other operator and may be able to use its 1800MHz spectrum to gain a head-start in 4G. However, communicating that both brands have an outstanding network, without encouraging subscribers to migrate to the lower-priced T-Mobile, will be problematic.
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    March 19, 2012

    Mobile revenue growth and outlook Q4 2011: from bad to worse

    In this presentation we show our analysis of revenue growth trends for mobile operators in the top five European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). The historical analysis is based on the published results of the operators, although they include our estimates where their data is inconsistent or not complete. A copy of the underlying data in spreadsheet format is available to our subscription clients on request.