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 Friday, January 25, 2008

The United Kingdom has been expelled from the list of the world's ten largest markets by Pakistan, as the South Asian market moved on to a total of 70 million customers by the end of Q3 2007, ahead of the UK with 69.3 million. Of course, the UK figure takes into account active customer numbers wherever possible, whilst the Pakistani number does not and almost certainly masks a very significant degree of inactivity. However, the change in the ranking - which uses active numbers wherever possible - is symbolic of current developments in the industry.

Italy also lost a place this quarter, slipping from eighth place to ninth, giving way to Indonesia, which moved up another place having been responsible for relegating the UK to tenth place in Q1 2007. Further down the ranking France also gave ground, this time as not one but two Asian markets - in the shape of the Philippines and Thailand - moved past it to take 15th and 16th places.

Meanwhile looking to the top 20, we find there was only one new entrant, Nigeria, which leapt from 22nd place to 19th in Q3 2007, knocking South Korea to 20th and ousting previous number one South Africa from the top 20. South Africa's status as the world's 20th largest market lasted just three months, as it only overtook Poland to enter the ranking in Q2 2007.

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Source: Cellular News.

Friday, January 25, 2008 11:44:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, January 24, 2008

At the end of 2007, the total number of mobile connections in India had grown by 61.0% year-on-year to reach 229.56 million. GSM connections totalled 172.13 million, 75% of the total. Net additions in December stood at 7.95 million, while the 2007 total stood at an astounding 86.99 million new connections - more than the entire market in Italy, which has had mobile operations for over 20 years, and more than China's 2007 total of 86.16 million.

Penetration in India is still low, having reached 20.5% at the end of 2007, and there is no reason why the market should not continue to grow rapidly, even if it cannot maintain 2007's stupendous pace. In fact, provided there is not a significant slowdown, India looks set to overtake the USA as the world's second largest market in 2008, as the chart suggests.

Market leader Bharti increased its market share to 24.0% at the end of December, a 1.6pp year-on-year gain, and finished the year on 55.16 million customers. December completed a six-month run of 2m+ monthly net additions with a record-breaking 2.20 million new customers (excluding Tata's July figure, which was massively boosted by a reclassification of its WLL customers as mobile). In second place, Reliance continued to fend off the challenge of Vodafone, stretching its lead to over 1 million for the first time in 6 months. At the end of the year it had a total of 40.93 million customers compared to 39.86 million for Vodafone.

USA vs. India: Total Customers, EOP (m), Q3 05 - Q4 07

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Thursday, January 24, 2008 3:59:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of mobile subscribers in Bangladesh reached 34.037 million at the end of December, up by 1.027 million in a month, and a rise of over twelve million since the start of the year, according to the latest figures from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). GrameenPhone remains the market leader with 16.48 million customers, up from 15.15 million at the end of September, while Banglalink (aka Sheba Telecom) ended the year with 7.08 million subscribers, up from 6.02 million at the start of the fourth quarter, and double its figure at the beginning of 2007. This growth pushed Orascom-owned Banglalink into second place in the market, overtaking Telecom Malaysia subsidiary AKTEL, which lost 600,000 net customers in 4Q to end December with 6.40 million users, according to the regulator’s figures. UAE-backed Warid Telecom acquired 2.15 million customers - taking fourth place - in just eight months after launching in May 2007. Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (CityCell), the only CDMA operator in a GSM-dominated sector, continued to steadily increase its subscriber base to 1.41 million by end-December, up from 1.32 million at the end of 3Q. State-run Teletalk had 850,000 subscribers on 31 December, up from 720,000 a month earlier, and 400,000 at end-2006, although previous claims had put its estimated subscriber base at a million by end-September 2007.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 9:00:58 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Thailand’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Advanced Info Services (AIS), has said that it believes it should be allowed to launch 3G services using W-CDMA technology in its existing 900MHz frequency band, without waiting for a specific 3G licence. The GSM operator, and its rivals True Move and DTAC, are still waiting for the authorities to award UMTS licences, now expected sometime in the first half of this year. AIS has earmarked USD600 million for a first phase rollout of a 3G network covering Bangkok and 20 provinces.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 8:58:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Namibia’s second mobile operator Cell One has announced that it has rolled out its GSM network to Karasburg, Khorixas and Omaruru, and its services have now reached all 13 regions of the country. According to chief marketing officer, Ivar Talmoen, Cell One covered around 70% of the country by the end of last year and continues to expand its footprint on a weekly basis. Powercom (trading as Cell One) launched commercial mobile services in Windhoek in March 2007, breaking the monopoly of incumbent provider Mobile Telecommunications.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 8:57:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Taiwanese cellco Taiwan Mobile says it is aiming to double its 3G user base in 2008, from 1.3 million now to 2.6 million by year-end. The firm plans to procure between 1.1 million and 1.2 million handsets this year, of which around half will be 3G models, chief business officer Cliff Lai told DigiTimes.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 8:56:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 23, 2008

PARIS -(Dow Jones)- SFR, France's second-largest mobile-phone operator, Tuesday said it has signed up 250,000 subscribers in two months to contracts allowing them unlimited Internet use on their mobile phones.

About 52% of the subscriptions are new customers while the remaining 48% are SFR customers who have changed contract, the company said in a statement.

The number of clients significantly exceeds SFR's initial target of 100,000, the company said. SFR is 56%-owned by Vivendi while Vodafone Group  holds the remaining 44%.

Rival operator France Telecom's  chief executive said Jan. 11 that the company's Orange brand had sold about 70,000 of Apple's iPhone handsets at the end of 2007, having forecast sales of nearly 100,000.

The iPhone is different from other handsets, though, as operators don't subsidize its price.

Source: Cellular News.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 8:47:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, January 22, 2008

China Telecom ended 2007 with 220.33 million local access lines in service (includes wireless local access lines), down from 223.04 million access lines in December 2006. In December alone the company lost 1.48 million customers and during the year China Telecom shed 2.71 million customers. However, the company added 600,000 broadband subscribers in December to end the month with a total of 35.65 million broadband users. Over the full year the company signed-up 7.33 million broadband subscribers.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 10:39:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, January 21, 2008

Caribbean-based mobile telecommunications operator Digicel ended 2007 with more than 6 million customers. The company has also announced that its total investment exceeded USD 1.9 billion across the region and it has also opened new business operations in Suriname, Guyana and El Salvador. In December 2007, Digicel was also granted a mobile licence to operate a GSM network in the British Virgin Islands. The company also introduced a new line of mobile handsets called Coral that is accessible to consumers across almost all Digicel markets. Digicel is also expanding its customer offerings, continuing to roll out technology services such as its Personal Broadband Service through WiMAX technology.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Monday, January 21, 2008 4:54:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, January 18, 2008

The number of people with a mobile phone in Brazil climbed 21.08% in 2007 to 120.98 million, according to preliminary figures published by the telecoms regulator Anatel. Of the total, around 81% were pre-paid users and 19% were on monthly contracts, it said. Although the overall pace of mobile subscriber growth is slowing, Anatel noted that 4.66 million new customers were added in December alone.

Portugal Telecom and Telefonica’s joint venture wireless operator Vivo maintained its leading position in the sector with a market share of 27.68%, up from 27.60% in November, ahead of Telecom Italia’s TIM Brasil unit with 25.85% (down from 25.88%) and America Movil-backed Telecom Americas (Claro) in third with 24.99% (24.98%). The fourth place operator was Oi with around 13%.

Source: Telegeography, based on Anatel.

Friday, January 18, 2008 1:28:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pakistan ended 2007 with 76.61 million mobile phone users, up from 74.59 million in November, according to figures from market regulator the PTA. Mobilink was market leader with 30.66 million customers, followed by Ufone with 16.66 million. Telenor Pakistan is third with 14.60 million, while Warid finished the year with 13.21 million. Mobile teledensity reached 48.42 percent at the end of the year, versus 39.94 percent at the start of 2007.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 1:01:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The launch of Etisalat in Egypt in the second quarter of 2007 was much anticipated, not least because more than eight years of duopoly in Egypt had seen the rate of mobile ownership climb to just one-quarter. At first glance, the addition of a third player appears to have energised the market, with net additions topping 3 million for the first time ever in Q2, and Q3 setting a new record of 3.73 million. The size of the total market stood at 26.99m at the end of September 2007, up from 15.87m a year earlier - a growth rate of 70%.

In addition, both Mobinil and Vodafone posted their highest ever figures for net additions since the launch of Etisalat, Vodafone claiming 1.32 million in Q2 and Mobinil 1.82 million in Q3. Of course, Etisalat itself also contributed to the growth of the market, gaining almost 0.7 million customers in Q3 to reach a total of 1.30 million, compared to 11.97 million for Vodafone and 13.72 million for Mobinil.

Egypt: Proportionate Customer Growth, Q4 04 - Q3 07

Etisalat's arrival has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the Egyptian mobile market, but the above figures may exaggerate the level of its impact somewhat. A glance at the proportionate growth rates yields a less dramatic picture. In each of the two quarters since Etisalat's launch, growth has been at around 16%, a respectable figure but not a particularly impressive one given that penetration was just 25.1% at the end of Q1. Moreover, when Etisalat's contribution is factored out the combined growth rate of the other two operators is around 13% in the first three quarters of 2007, which is roughly the same level as in 2005. Of course, there is a strong possibility that quarterly growth would have remained in the single digit figures recorded in Q1 and Q2 06 had a third player not launched, but this does not alter the impression that neither Mobinil or Vodafone has quite shaken off the ‘comfortable duopoly' mindset.

At the end of Q3, penetration in Egypt stood at just 33.5%. This is by far the lowest rate across the five North African nations, with Morocco in fourth place on 57.9% and Libya the most penetrated on 86.2%.

Source: Cellular News.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 12:59:07 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Morocco's Maroc Telecom has commercially launched a 3G/HSDPA service in the country's main cities the company has announced. The company was originally awarded a 3G license in May 2006, along with competitors, Medi Telecom and Maroc Connect.

The 3G coverage is currently available in the cities of Rabat, Casablanca, Mohammedia, Agadir, Fès, Marrakech, Kenitra, Tetouan, Tanger and Essaouira.

Figures from the Mobile World database reports that Maroc Telecom ended last September with around 12.8 million customers - and a market share of 66%.

Maroc Telecom, a 51% subsidiary of France's Vivendi, with the remainder listed on the Casablanca and Paris stock exchanges. The company also holds 51% of the historic operators in Mauritania (Mauritel), Burkina Faso (Onatel) and Gabon (Gabon Telecom).

Source: Cellular News.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 12:56:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

After a comparatively quiet second quarter, the mobile market in the Middle East and Africa has bounced back with a record number of new customers. Over 32 million net additions were made in the three months to end September, some 2 million more than were connected in the previous best quarter, Q4 2006. As has been the case for most of this year, the bulk of the growth has come from Africa, rather than the Middle East, with Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa producing the strongest gains. The most notable exception to this generality is Iran, where additional competition is spurring growth.

Since the last review of the region, there have been a number of adjustments to the data, most notably in Nigeria where the regulator has supplied new data on the market. The result is that Glo Mobile, the independently owned operator, is now credited with a larger share of the national total and in fact, market leadership. Its Q2 numbers have been revised upwards to just over 15 million, enough to give it fourth place in the region last quarter, ahead of MTN Nigeria. As a result of this, the proportion of the region’s customers connected to the ten market leaders has risen from around 43% to 47%. However, the regulator’s numbers show that there is a growing issue with inactivity in the country: of the 46.2m connections at the end of September, nearly 8m – or 17% - were inactive.

Top 10 MNOs by Customers

The list of the ten largest companies in the region is, once again, unchanged as far as constituents are concerned. However, there are several positional changes. The top two are not affected - Vodacom SA remains the market leader in the region, with 22.5 million active customers, ahead of TCI of Iran – but third and fourth have swapped places and last quarter’s seventh has dropped to ninth this time. Vodacom has undertaken a major cull of inactive connections in the last quarter, severing some 2.9 million from its list. In the light of this, it is no surprise that the registered base has dropped by some 1.3 million (to 23.3m) though of course, the activity rate has improved from 88.6% to almost 96%.

Second placed TCI continues to grow rapidly, encouraged by the arrival of genuine national competition in the shape of MTN Iran. TCI added 1.7 million new connections in the quarter to take its total to 19.5 million. On the face of it, this looks like a good result, but it has to be seen in context: this is in fact TCI’s slowest quarter for a year and MTN Iran bettered its 1.71 million total by the best part of 0.25 million, taking a majority of net additions for the first time. Third place in the region goes to Glo Mobile, which was sixth at the start of the year but has apparently now overtaken MTN Nigeria as the market leader. This move leaves STC, the Saudi number one, down in fourth place, with 15.8 million customers.

MTN subsidiaries take both fifth and sixth place this quarter, as they did last. MTN Nigeria is now the largest single unit within the group, ahead of MTN South Africa. The Nigerian company added nearly one million new connections to end the quarter with 14.99 million subscribers, while the South African company added 0.67 million, to reach a total of 14.1 million. The four remaining companies on the list are all in North Africa. Mobinil, the FT/Orascom joint venture in Egypt, has risen from eighth to seventh after adding 1.8 million new connections, while Maroc Telecom has also moved up one place and now has a total of 12.8 million. This leaves it marginally ahead of Orascom Algeria, which, despite adding over 700k new connections had fallen from seventh to ninth, with 12.7 million customers. The final place on the list goes to Vodafone Egypt, which, although it failed to match the pace set by Mobinil, nonetheless added an impressive 1.2 million new customers to close the quarter with 12.2 million.

Mobile ownership continues to spread across the region. At the end of June there were over 60 networks with more than one million customers; three months later that number has risen to over 70, with many of these being multi-million operations. All of the top 15 operators have more than six million customers and the three of these in 11th, 12th and 13th places overall - Algeria Telecom Mobile, Celtel Nigeria and Safaricom Kenya – have over nine million. At their current growth rates, all three will pass the ten million mark in the current quarter.

Source: Cellular News.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 9:48:37 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, there were 19.5 million new subscribers in 2007, taking the country’s total number of fixed and mobile users to 46.94 million, giving a penetration rate of 55.2%. Dominant telco VNPT added nearly 9.9 million new customers to reach a total of 27.8 million, helping to boost revenue 13% year-on-year to VND45.3 trillion (USD2.8 billion). Viettel ranked second with 5.9 million new additions, taking its total to 15.3 million and recording revenue of VND16.5 trillion.

Source: Telegeography, based on information from the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 9:45:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Caribbean based operator, Digicel says that it ended last year with more than six million customers, a total investment exceeding US $1.9 billion across the region and new business operations in Suriname, Guyana and El Salvador. The company's measurement is based on an approach of a subscriber only being defined as "active" if that subscriber had a chargeable event in the last 30 days.

"Digicel's progress in 2007 reinforced our position as the Caribbean's leading mobile service provider and demonstrated delivery of sustained growth in our current markets, strategically expanding operations in new markets and providing exciting, first-to-market technology innovations to all of our customers," said Colm Delves, Digicel Group CEO.

Significant inroads were also made by Digicel's sister company, Digicel Pacific. The company launched in Papua New Guinea in July 2007, and the Tonga operator TONFON was acquired in November while Digicel Samoa continues to enjoy steady growth. The Governments of Fiji, Vanuatu and several other countries in the Pacific have committed to license Digicel Pacific shortly.

"2007 was a phenomenal year of growth for Digicel," added Colm Delves. "As we look ahead to 2008, we are very excited about further strengthening our presence in current markets, strategically expanding our business operations in new markets and continuing to bring new technology innovations and products to all of our customers."

Source: Cellular News.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 9:43:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of mobile connections in Nigeria finished just 10k shy of 44m at the end of Q3 07, and penetration broke through 30% to finish on 32.4%. Net additions totaled 16.90m in the 12 months ending 30th September 2007 and annual growth stood at 62.4%, only marginally below the 63.6% rate recorded a year earlier.

In quarterly terms, the market grew by 14.6%, with a record 5.62m net additions.

Glo Mobile overtook MTN to become the Nigerian market leader in Q2 07, although it had edged ahead briefly in Q4 06 with a lead of 4k at the end of the year. At the end of June 2007 its lead was 1.1m, and three months later it had grown to 3.0m, with 18.01m customers to MTN’s 14.99m. In terms of market share, Glo posted a figure of 40.9% at the end of Q3, giving it a 6.8pp lead over MTN. Glo achieved this result through two excellent quarters with net additions of 2.77m in Q2 and 2.87m - its best ever result - in Q3. In total, it added over 8.55m new connections in the year, compared to 4.61m for MTN.

Nigeria: Quarterly Net Additions

In fact, as the above chart shows, Celtel has also had an excellent quarter, claiming a clear second place for net additions with 1.91m to finish the quarter with a total customer base of 9.88m. In proportionate terms, it posted a quarterly growth rate of 24.0%. The fastest growing operator in Q3, however, was CDMA operator Starcomms, which launched at the end of March. Although it has yet to make a significant impact on the market with just 0.9% market share at the end of Q3, it did claim top spot for quarterly growth with a rate of 28.9%. It finished Q3 just short of 0.4m customers. The fifth operator in the market is Nigerian Mobile Telecommunications (Nitel), which has been in decline for some time with three successive quarterly losses. At the end of Q3 07, it had 0.72m customers, having lost over 0.55m in the year. However, with new owners in place at Nitel, there is finally a glimmer of hope for this business and we will follow developments with a keen interest in 2008.

Source: Cellular News.

Thursday, January 17, 2008 9:42:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Spain added 182,263 mobile phone subscriptions in November 2007, taking the toal to 49.58 million mobile lines, or 110.9 lines per 100 inhabitants, according to telecommunication regulator CMT. Of the subscribers, 50.7 percent (92,407) signed with Vodafone, 30.2 percent (55,043) chose Yoigo, 10.9 percent (19,867) went with Telefonica Movil’s Movistar, and 1.6 percent (2,916) chose MVNOs. Mobile number portability rose by 7 percent to 328,455 lines in November 2007 compared to November 2006. Telefonica added 18,269 ported numbers and Yoigo added 18,150. Orange had lost 21,945 net lines to portability, followed by Vodafone with 12,131, Euskaltel with 359 and the remainder of MVNOs lost 1,987.

Source: Wireless Federation base on CMT.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 4:11:00 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Guatemala’s telecoms regulator Superintendcia de Telecomunicaciones (SIT) has announced that the country’s three cellular operators signed almost three million subscribers between them during 2007, ending the year with 10.15 million customers in total. The growth was fuelled by cut-price mobile packages hitting the market. The regulator says that Millicom subsidiary Comcel led the market at end-2007, closely followed by America Movil’s local unit, Claro. Third-placed operator Movistar, which is backed by Telefonica of Spain, claimed around 25% of all subscribers.

Source: Telegeography, based on SIT.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 4:10:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |