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    May 13, 2021

    Venture Insights AU survey 2021: Broadband market converges as NB [...]

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    In our previous reports, we have raised issues around ARPU pressure on mobile service providers and highlighted the importance of price as a driver of telecommunications buying. We have said that competitive intensity (along with aftereffects of COVID-19) will put pressure on ARPUs which in turn requires a strong focus on keeping costs under control to maintain profitability.
  • May 6, 2021

    Venture Insights NZ survey 2021: No end in sight for NZ mobile co [...]

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    In our previous reports, we have raised issues around ARPU pressure on mobile service providers and highlighted the importance of price as a driver of telecommunications buying. We have said that competitive intensity (along with aftereffects of COVID-19) will put pressure on ARPUs which in turn requires a strong focus on keeping costs under control to maintain profitability.
  • May 6, 2021

    ITV Q1 2021 results: Returning to 2019 levels

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    Total advertising revenues were down 6% year-on-year in Q1, but strong expected growth in Q2 should ensure H1 is on par with 2019, and up 26% on 2020 Coming into the first quarter of this year—following the strong end to 2020—there was little market visibility of TV advertising revenues due to the possible impact of Brexit on advertisers' supply chains, and of course the effect of the pandemic over the winter. ITV reported total advertising revenues down just 6% year-on-year to £402 million, with the market being stronger than previously anticipated. Perhaps of greater interest, however, is the outlook ITV gave for April to June, given the 43% total advertising revenue decline ITV experienced last year as a direct result of COVID-19. In contrast April was up 68% while May and June are expected to be up at least 85%. While these are certainly buoyant figures, it should be noted that this would mean H1 2021 would be on par with 2019.  
  • May 4, 2021

    Apple’s privacy rollout: A trial for regulators

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    Apple this week rolled out new restrictions on the collection of mobile user data by third-party businesses. From Monday, all apps submitted to the App Store must enable the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) program, which requires app owners to display an opt-in window  by default before tracking users across third-party sites: Apple says it will ban apps that offer users rewards for enabling tracking. Developers estimate that around 80% of users may opt out, upending advertisers' ability to follow high-value iOS users across multiple apps and services. This lucrative pool of more than a billion mobile users is more robust than ever, with Apple reporting a 66% jump in iPhone sales last quarter.  
  • April 29, 2021

    Deals not quite done: 5G spectrum auction final results

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    The main part of the second UK 5G spectrum auction completed on 17 March 2021, with the nature and number of blocks won by each operator decided, and we discussed the results and implications in End-of-line spectrum 50% off: UK second 5G auction results. This morning (27 April 2021) Ofcom announced the final results of the auction, which incorporates the assignment stage, i.e. deciding which particular blocks of very similar spectrum each operator receives, as well as announcing a proposed spectrum trade (still subject to Ofcom approval) between Vodafone and O2.  
  • April 29, 2021

    The push for OpenRAN: Careful what you wish for

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    The term ‘OpenRAN’ covers both the separation of hardware and software across different RAN (Radio Access Network, the 'last mile' of mobile networks) elements (essentially the boxes that sit next to the antenna, at the bottom of the antenna, and/or in a nearby exchange), and having open interfaces between these elements in a variety of configurations. If this is standardised (i.e. standardising the hardware/software split and the APIs), this would allow the 'mixing and matching' of different vendors within an operator's RAN; while many operators currently have more than one RAN supplier even within a single country, these are separated geographically, and on any given site equipment has to be replaced or upgraded (to 5G for example) using equipment from the original supplier.  
  • April 21, 2021

    Brief reprieve from COVID turbulence: UK mobile market in Q4 2020

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    The sector rebounded slightly in the quarter to December thanks to a seasonal improvement in the roaming drag, although the partial lockdown tempered the recovery. We await imminent news on spectrum trading, and there may also be some licence fee reductions as a consequence of the lower prices in the recent 5G auction. While the sector is likely to continue to struggle into Q1, the outlook is much brighter thereafter thanks to the annualisation and even reversal of some lockdown effects, and to higher price increases from the spring.
  • April 8, 2021

    The recovery stutters: UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends [...]

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    • Market revenue growth sunk back to -3% in Q4 from -2% in Q3, with further backbook pricing and lockdown effects to blame.
    • Backbook pricing will improve with numerous price increases announced, but these will only start to take effect in Q2 2021.
    • Demand for broadband and ultrafast looks promising, but will also take time to filter through to revenue, with Q1 again lockdown affected.

  • March 25, 2021

    A worthwhile flurry of activity? Mobile towers companies in focus

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    • The wave of deal-making in the European towers sector is driven by cash-strapped telcos seeking a form of sale and leaseback financing
    • While the operators are incentivised to provide a medium-term growth trajectory for these towers companies, sustainability of that growth is more questionable, especially as 5G will not require additional base stations
    • Cellnex continues to insinuate itself into the UK market with its most recent deal signaling the ultimate unwinding of the MBNL JV. Further UK towers consolidation seems a long way off but could facilitate, or indeed be facilitated by, consolidation at the MNO level
  • March 18, 2021

    End-of-line spectrum 50% off: UK second 5G auction results

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    Proceeds in the swiftly concluded second 5G auction were £1.36bn, very much towards the bottom end of the estimated £1-2.7bn range in our recent report 2021 spectrum auction: Uncertainty prevails [2020-117]. The prices paid are very low by historic standards, particularly for the 700MHz band but the spectrum most suitable for 5G (3.6-3.8GHz) is also more than 40% below the price achieved in the auction for very similar spectrum in 2018.
  • March 9, 2021

    Virgin Media: Subscribers strong, ARPU tough to turn

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    • Virgin Media’s subscriber growth continues to be very strong, and it looks like next quarter’s price rise will (at worst) only stall, not stop, the renaissance
    • ARPU was hit in Q4 by the postponed price rise, and it will likely remain in decline in 2021, with regulatory pricing pressure and lockdown effects still weighing, despite firm new customer pricing
    • Nonetheless, accelerating subscriber growth is expected to drive group revenue growth positive again (helped by B2B growth), and Virgin Media’s main strategic problem—its fibre trilemma—looks like it will be dealt with after the merger with O2, expected
  • February 22, 2021

    Vodafone: Leverage looms large

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    • Generating cash is top of Vodafone’s agenda right now, and we may be seeing early signs of that driving operational tactics ahead of resolving its leverage crisis through either an IPO of Vantage or a sale of its Iberian assets
    • EBITDA growth would really help. Analyst forecasts of +4% for next year are not supported by recent history and a simple bounce-back of roaming revenues should not be assumed
    • Q3 results were a mixed bag with the very slight improvement in revenue trends accounted for by easing roaming pressure. Green shoots in German fixed is a highlight, with growth in UK mobile a touch disappointing
  • January 19, 2021

    (UK) TalkTalk: Mixed results, future opaque

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    • TalkTalk’s latest results were mixed at best, with ARPU and revenue growth improving off a low last quarter, but net adds worsening, EBITDA falling sharply and full year EBITDA guidance suspended
    • Its outlook remains challenging, with the move to high speed still a drag on EBITDA, and the migration to ultrafast a further (even greater) challenge, although this brings opportunity as well, especially if the company can move away from its discount brand focus
    • Its prospective new owners highlight the need to invest in brand, systems, and full fibre capabilities to meet this challenge, but it is not clear where the money to do this is coming from, and it is also not clear if the desire to ‘reposition the brand’ includes a move upmarket
  • January 15, 2021

    Roaming charges to return for some: Free EU roaming an optional e [...]

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    • Lockdown 1.0 in March-April-May 2020 reduced mobility in London to 65% of its pre-pandemic baseline, swelling time spent at home. London’s mobility tracked a similar decline to Paris and New York City, all hugely reliant on public transport
    • Easing lockdowns and good weather slowly led to a mobility recovery through the summer and early autumn, but it sharply declined again after November’s Lockdown 2.0. The mobility decline was greatest in the City of London, which is more acutely affected by working from home
    • Each nation in the UK diverged slightly from September due to varying local policies adopted by England, Wales and Scotland to address their public health crises. Notably however, Lockdown 2.0 did not cause mobility to fall to the same degree as late March
  • January 13, 2021

    Edge Computing – defining the market and business models

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    Edge computing is, fundamentally, the placement of processing and analysis capabilities near the edge of the network close to the sources of data to achieve these objectives. This deployment requires a fairly complex value chain of resources and capabilities. As a result, it is taking time for the structure of the edge computing market to emerge, and for the required partnerships and associated business models to develop. We expect this process will take years, as edge computing grows in scale and sophistication from its current rudimentary beginnings.
  • January 7, 2021

    Battery backup for telco infrastructure: options and necessity

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    The 2019-20 bushfire season has renewed the focus on battery backup for telco infrastructure. About 88% of the tower outages were caused by power failure and only 1% was were due to direct fire damage. Thus, a better power backup could have significantly improved the emergency response during the bushfires by reducing tower outages.
  • December 10, 2020

    2021 spectrum auction: Uncertainty prevails (UK)

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    COVID, potential consolidation, implications for ALF pricing and non-contiguous blocks have conspired to make the forthcoming second 5G spectrum auction a highly complicated affair.
  • December 2, 2020

    Recovery…of sorts: UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trend [...]

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    • Consumer broadband, telephony and pay TV market revenue growth recovered to -2% in Q3 (from -6% in Q2), with the recovery in premium sports channel revenue being partially mitigated by a worsening in backbook pricing pressure at BT
    • This is however still weaker than pre-COVID levels, with said backbooking pricing pressure affecting all operators to some extent, and intensifying as Ofcom-mandated end-of-contract notifications are rolled out, with annual best tariff notification due over the next few months
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  • November 23, 2020

    Vodafone: Bright spots and low lights

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    There are some reasons to be cheerful about Vodafone right now—small nuggets of encouragement in its H1 results and the prospect of some market repair in the UK. Annual in-contract price rises of CPI + 3.9% across the UK mobile sector could provide very valuable support
  • November 16, 2020

    FY20 Investor Day – Telstra counting on its 5G leadership to im [...]

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    Telstra held its annual Investor Day event on 12th November 2020. Telstra CEO Andy Penn and senior management addressed progress on its T22 strategy, the financial and earnings outlook, changing dynamics in the Enterprise market, progress on the 5G rollout, and changes to the company structure. In this report, we have analysed some of the key announcements from the event and provided our take on the same.
  • November 13, 2020

    Update: The Australian tower market 2020 – Telstra’s TowerCo

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    The market for traditional macro-towers in Australia is mature. All three carriers have been expanding their tower networks only incrementally in recent years, and site growth is low. 5G will not change this significantly, because 5G base stations are being mounted on existing towers, not new ones.
  • November 13, 2020

    Virgin Media: Subscriber growth renaissance continues

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    Virgin Media’s lockdown subscriber surge continued into Q3, as working-from-home highlights the importance of the faster speeds its network can offer.
  • November 9, 2020

    BT: Glacially improving outlook

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    BT had a fairly mixed September quarter at the revenue level, with post-lockdown recovery evident in a number of areas, such as wholesale/commercial sports, Openreach installation and network build volumes, and consumer mobile net adds, but revenue weakness in mobile roaming (seasonal factors) and consumer fixed (regulator-inspired price cuts) resulted in overall group revenue growth unchanged.
  • November 5, 2020

    MVNO Update: Has the Australian MVNO market peaked?

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    Australian MVNOs (not including sub-brands) have seen their market share grow from 6% in 2010 to 15% in 2020 with a majority of the growth happening between 2010-2015. However, we believe that MVNOs have reached a peak in Australia in FY20.