Turkey followed Italy and the UK in suffering a quarterly loss to its customer base. The 1.44m decline was the largest ever seen, as well as being the first for seven years. At the end of Q1 09, the total customer base stood at 64.48m, just 3.1% above the Q1 08 total. This was the lowest growth rate ever recorded in the Turkish market and 12.3pp below the year-earlier rate. Penetration fell back below 90% during the quarter, finishing on 89.0%. However, there is every chance that a resurgence in growth will take penetration over 100% once 3G is launched, with reports suggesting that the first W-CDMA networks will be operational very soon.
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Vodafone's woes continued in Turkey. As in Germany and the UK, it saw the greatest loss of any network, losing 1.24m to finish on 15.48m. Although it remains almost 2.9m customers ahead of third-placed Avea, this is down from a lead of 6.4m a year earlier. With the losses confined to its prepaid base, the contract percentage was up by 1.3pp year on year to 12.7%, although this was still the worst rate on the market by some distance. Moreover, this improvement in customer quality did nothing to boost ARPU, which fell 15.9% annually to TRY11.10 per month. Market leader Turkcell also lost customers, a decline of 0.60m taking its total base to 36.40m. Of course, this still gives it a lead of more than 20m over Vodafone. In addition, like Vodafone it saw an improvement in customer quality, from 18.8% contract at the end of Q1 08 to 21.4% a year later. However, also like Vodafone this did not boost ARPU, which was down 21.2% to USD10.40 - although currency movements no doubt played a role here. The only operator not to see a decline in customer numbers was Avea, which added 0.40m to finish on 12.60m, appearing to benefit directly from the losses at its competitors, especially given the introduction of MNP last year. Avea's annual growth rate was 20.0%, and as we have seen it closed the gap on Vodafone significantly during the year. Although its customer quality declined slightly, at 34.9% it remained by far the highest in the market. Meanwhile, ARPU was at TRY14.00, down 10.8% year on year.
Source: Cellular News