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  • June 4, 2018

    News brands and reader subscriptions: Towards a sustainable futur [...]

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    Print remains the primary revenue driver for most newspapers, but after 20 years of online news publishing we ask the critical question: how will publishers sustain newsrooms at scale when print has disappeared, or has contracted to a weekend luxury experience? The question needs to be answered in the context of both: 1) Rapidly declining advertising revenues in print media; and 2) A tiny and shrinking market share of digital advertising revenues. We believe these circumstances strongly imply the race for audience scale is more investor fallacy than a sustainable business prize; and besides, over-reliance on the advertising market for quality content provision is unappealing, particularly to proudly independent news publishers. Reader revenue, long assumed to be an impossibility for general quality digital news services, is the only answer. Registrations, membership and subscription models are being explored, tested, adopted or exploited by almost every major quality news provider in the US and Europe. The transition to subscription is hugely attractive, but requires first and foremost a new editorial strategy, requiring a wholesale business transformation.
  • May 31, 2018

    French, Spanish and Italian telcos won’t bankroll further footb [...]

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    The rights auction for France’s Ligue 1 will be held on 29 May. With Altice’s struggling subsidiary SFR unlikely to bid, Canal+ and BeIN Sports may not offer enough to meet reserve prices, triggering a postponement of the auction. In Spain, stiff fixed-line competition is shifting battlegrounds from football to scripted content. The Champions League has yet to sign up a platform for next season, while the upcoming 2019-22 La Liga rights auction may well fail to increase domestic revenues. With just 12 weeks before next season kicks off, Italy’s Serie A is also yet to secure a broadcaster, although we expect the league to back down and settle with Sky. In this deflationary environment, top clubs are eyeing a new Club Word Cup as an extra revenue stream – running the risk of further widening the financial chasm between themselves and smaller clubs.    
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  • May 30, 2018

    BT new Consumer strategy: Converging, but in a good way

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    BT has emphasised ‘convergence’ in its new Consumer strategy, but it has avoided most of the usual fixed-mobile convergence mistakes, with separate brands, minimal discounting and only slightly flawed converged products. The general strategy is to improve customer service to improve market share trends (particularly in broadband), enable premium products/positioning, and allow for cross-selling of a strong set of converged (in a broader sense) products, which is very sensible in our view. It does require extra spending in the short-term to improve customer service and the perception thereof (particularly in broadband) before premium positioning and cross-selling can be effective, therefore improved trends at the bottom line may take some time to come through.
  • May 28, 2018

    Strategically challenged: Vodafone Q4 2017/18 results

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    The major change in trend evidenced in Vodafone’s Q4 results was a decline in mobile service revenue growth in Germany by 2ppts on the December quarter, in spite of record contract net adds and improving growth trends from its competitors. At least part of this deterioration is likely due to its strategic focus on converged products; we estimate discounts of around one third and question the rationale for this initiative, particularly given the admission that this is distracting from the core mobile business. Vodafone’s guidance for 1-5% group EBITDA growth next year reflects the challenging outlook and uncertainty in southern European markets, a more positive view on the UK, with Vodafone’s German strategy a major swing factor.          
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  • May 24, 2018

    European video-on-demand: Playing catch-up to the UK

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    The UK continues to lead the EU5 in take-up and consumption of video-on-demand services, with close cultural alignment and a historic williness to pay for TV content making it a receptive home for US SVODs. Netflix dominates in most markets, benefiting from high-profile US imports and big-budget local productions. Local SVODs are struggling, with those operated by FTA broadcasters facing considerable challenges. Collaboration between local broadcasters and pay-TV platforms is essential if they are to hold at bay the threat of Netflix and co., with an increasingly favourable regulatory environment opening the door for unprecedented collaboration.      
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  • May 23, 2018

    BT Q4 2017/18 results: Slowing broadband bites, but recovery pos [...]

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    BT Group met expectations for the 2017/18 financial year, but future guidance is very modest compared to previous performance and financial market expectations, with 2018/19 revenue and EBITDA both guided to decline by around 2% with capex rising. In our view, this weakened outlook is primarily driven by the ongoing slowdown and increasing competitiveness of the UK broadband market, with operating metrics at BT Consumer particularly weak. BT’s re-vamped strategy looks good in parts, and could deliver the incremental improvements necessary to outperform the new (much more modest) expectations, helped by existing – and likely continued – strength in mobile.
  • May 22, 2018

    Blockchain in Telecom – moving from concept to reality…

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    In the past decade, Telcos have had to deal with a number of disruptive technologies. The pace of change is set to continue as Telcos transition towards a 5G and IoT enabled ecosystem. As Telcos seek new revenue opportunities and a way to streamline operations, Blockchain is rapidly evolving to become one of the most promising emerging innovations for telecoms today.
  • May 21, 2018

    Virgin Media Q1 2018 results: Good, but beware headlines

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    The highlight of Virgin Media’s Q1 results was the return to growth for its UK cable ARPU (+1.3%), although the improvement in trend should be interpreted with caution due to accounting changes. Headline group revenue growth of 5.2% was boosted by profit-neutral handset sales, with underlying growth of around 3.2% – still strong in the sector context. Virgin Media continues to do relatively well in the increasingly challenging UK broadband market, but with evidence of limited pricing power, sluggish roll-out and subscriber growth, revenue trends look set to slow.    
  • May 18, 2018

    Vodafone/Liberty Global deal: Slim economics and regulatory risk

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    Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty's assets in Germany and Central Europe is likely to face regulatory scrutiny at the EU – and possibly also German – level. We view Vodafone’s expectation of closure in mid-2019 with no remedies as unlikely. The economics of the deal for Vodafone are slim, highly reliant on extracting sizeable synergies, and vulnerable to operational risk and potential remedies for regulatory approval, particularly in Germany. While we see some synergy benefit from combining two cable assets in Germany, we are unconvinced of meaningful benefits from combined fixed/mobile offerings.          
  • 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.          
  • Free
    May 10, 2018

    TPG mobile launch plans – there’s going to be data on the str [...]

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    With an increasingly commoditised fixed market, the Australian mobile market is under attack as both margins and market share are under pressure. TPG is set to launch its mobile network with rock bottom introductory pricing for mobile data.
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  • May 10, 2018

    NBN update: more fibre + better pricing will lead to higher speed [...]

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    The NBN has made significant progress on improving speed uptake on its network in the past six months driven by the pricing changes announced in November 2017. However, customer complaints that continue to rise as the rollout progresses and an increasing threat from fixed wireless substitutes continue to weigh on the future of the NBN.
  • May 7, 2018

    Blockchain: Reinventing the wheel

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    Despite the hype, systems based on the technology underlying bitcoin are a poor match for most use-cases. The term 'blockchain' is nowadays applied to technologies with shared aims and ideals rather than technological unity; few – if any – of these aims require true blockchain, any many are double-edged swords. The promises of blockchain are seductive in the context of programmatic online advertising, but are over-sold.
  • Free
    May 5, 2018

    Venture Advisory Monthly Wrap – April 2018

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    Venture Advisory provides a review of leading Australasian telco, media and technology companies on a monthly basis. This review considers amongst other things share price performers ( best and worst performers during the month), company news flow and ASX release updates and respective valuation trading multiples. The report is designed for busy executives and investment professionals that want to get a flash update and stay on top of key news flow.  If you wish to find out more or have an deeper enquiry please feel free to contact Nigel Pugh or Sarah Houghton.
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  • May 2, 2018

    Small Cells Part 1: Leveraging Public Infrastructure

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    Recent public infrastructure deals have demonstrated the joint benefits of combining smart city rollouts with mobile networks. Venture expects more infrastructure deals to be completed as governments recognise the clear public policy benefits and Telcos roll out 5G networks faster.
  • May 1, 2018

    Sky Q3 2017/18 results: ever more attractive

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    Sky posted yet another set of solid results, with revenues up 5% and operating profits up 10%, despite weakening operating metrics in Germany & Austria. Deals with Netflix and Spotify will enhance the customer experience, signalling Sky's confidence in its platform, perhaps a sign of further deals to come. A successful outcome from February’s Premier League auction sealed the prospect of a takeover battle for Sky, with Comcast launching its formal bid this week.
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  • April 18, 2018

    Sky’s Italian strategic breakthrough

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    After losing money for 13 years fighting Sky, Mediaset has given up. The two have agreed to wholesale channels to each other, and Sky gained the option to take over the infrastructure of terrestrial pay platform Mediaset Premium, in a deal designed to pass antitrust muster. The main strategic upside for Sky resides in eventual access to content from Italian FTA channels, allowing it to become the country’s ‘universal’ platform. Meanwhile, Mediaset may find it easier to resolve its dispute with France’s Vivendi now that the broadcaster has got rid of its main cash drain. Sky remains the only major potential buyer of the 2018-21 Serie A rights, to be sold on 21 April. However, due to the league’s unrealistic expectations and the faulty platform-based auction design, the auction may be aborted for a third time, raising the risk that heavily indebted clubs resort to short-term fixes.
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  • April 11, 2018

    UK mobile market Q4 2017: Swings, roundabouts, and auctions

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    UK mobile service revenue growth worsened to 0.9% in the quarter from 1.5% in the previous quarter, although this was entirely due to an ARPU drop in BT/EE’s business segment. BT/EE’s consumer business is still growing strongly, and all the other operators improved their growth due to the EU roaming cut impact reducing in intensity. Looking forward, there are no further regulatory shocks on the horizon, and the annual price increases implemented in March/April are higher than previous years due to higher underlying rates of inflation. While SIM-only is likely to continue to rise, we still expect revenue growth in 2018 to be robustly positive at a similar or higher level than that of 2017. In the recent 4G/5G auction, O2 won all of the currently useable 4G spectrum available, and the 5G spectrum was split between all four operators, with H3G winning less that the others but (combined with its existing holdings) being nonetheless the largest 5G spectrum holder.
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  • Free
    April 5, 2018

    Venture Advisory Monthly Wrap – March 2018

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    Venture Advisory provides a review of leading Australasian telco, media and technology companies on a monthly basis. This review considers amongst other things share price performers ( best and worst performers during the month), company news flow and ASX release updates and respective valuation trading multiples. The report is designed for busy executives and investment professionals that want to get a flash update and stay on top of key news flow.  If you wish to find out more or have an deeper enquiry please feel free to contact Nigel Pugh or Sarah Houghton.
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  • March 19, 2018

    UK addressable TV has more to deliver, while online video posts r [...]

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    The market for addressable TV looks constrained despite its benefits, with Sky AdSmart taking less than 2% of overall TV ad revenues. Meanwhile, online video revenues for Google, Facebook and others have surged dramatically. Agencies are seemingly enraptured by online video – a highly profitable medium to buy – despite concerns about a lack of effectiveness, safety and transparency. For broadcasters to compete better radical collaborative action is needed including industry-wide adoption of AdSmart, and overhauling the trading arrangements which hinder its take-up.
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  • March 15, 2018

    Telco Roundtable Breakfast – key findings

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    As identified by our survey, fixed-mobile substitution will be a growing risk for the fixed broadband market. Telcos need to understand and manage the risk of consumers switching away from fixed-line to mobile, particularly in light of the upcoming availability of 5G. The increasing consumption of SVOD has driven the growth in fixed broadband in recent years. However, changing viewing habits, particularly towards viewership on mobile devices, could help spearhead mobile substitution. We expect pressure on fixed broadband to grow as the combination of 5G network launches and TPG’s mobile market entry will increase consumer interest and options for wireless broadband solutions.
  • March 13, 2018

    Spectrum reform – a step in the right direction

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    Rapidly developing wireless and mobile network technologies and consumers’ increasing appetite for data are driving a significant increase in demand for spectrum. With little or no changes in spectrum policy over the past two decades, the Government announced a review into spectrum allocation, regulation and licensing.
  • Free
    March 5, 2018

    Venture Advisory Monthly Wrap – February 2018

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    Venture Advisory provides a review of leading Australasian telco, media and technology companies on a monthly basis. This review considers amongst other things share price performers ( best and worst performers during the month), company news flow and ASX release updates and respective valuation trading multiples. The report is designed for busy executives and investment professionals that want to get a flash update and stay on top of key news flow.  If you wish to find out more or have an deeper enquiry please feel free to contact Nigel Pugh or Sarah Houghton.
    $0.00
  • March 2, 2018

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2017

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    UK residential communications market revenue growth fell again to 1.2%, with weakening ARPU growth the main driver. New customer pricing remains flat to down, and existing customers are being increasingly discounted, fuelling the ARPU weakness. High speed broadband adoption is proceeding apace, but the high speed premium is fairly thin, muting the impact on ARPU. Regulated wholesale price cuts from Openreach finalised today and due in April 2018 will not help. Looking forward, the March quarter will benefit from price timing effects at BT and Virgin Media, but we fear that the rest of 2018 will follow the current downward trend and the operators will need to adjust to an ex-growth environment.