TIM remains market leader but in Q3 its share of the total dropped below 40% for the first time ever. It lost a total of 1.53m connections overall, with 999k of those coming in the second half of the year. The upside of this is that ARPUs have risen, with overall spend rising from €20.3 to €20.8. Of this, €5.6 came from data. This gain was achieved despite TIM seeing only the most modest gain in usage – from 119 minutes to 123 – and despite lower termination rates.
Vodafone, by contrast, saw a small rise in subscriber numbers, from 29.64m to 29.96m, a gain of 319k which took its share of the market up from 33.4% to 33.8%. ARPUs were down from €21.6 to €21.5, which is largely due to a sharp reduction in contract spend – from €65.4 to €56.0. Prepaid averages were barely changed at €17.0, against €17.2. Vodafone’s reported minutes totalled 153 in Q4, well up on the 142 seen one year earlier and well up on TIM’s number too.
WIND entered the market well after Vodafone, which in turn began nearly a decade after TIM’s launch and as a result, both had to adopt more aggressive pricing strategies. This continues to be the case today, as WIND’s 170 minutes per month only produces ARPU of €18.5. However, the company enjoyed the best growth of any operator, with a 1.445m increase in overall subscribers to 18.08m, or 20.4% of the total – this being the first time the company has reached that market share milestone.
The final operator is H3G, the 3G specialist. This has struggled to achieve the goals it initially set itself and today it still only has 6.5% of the market. That, however, equates to a fairly large number – 8.88m overall – and recent reports suggest profitability is improving, not just here but across Europe as a whole.