Wednesday, 22 March 2017 23:07

Mobile phone operators under pressure to find new market opportunities Featured

By
Kyklie Wansink, Budde Report Kyklie Wansink, Budde Report

Mobile phone services have reached a saturation point in many of the world’s developed markets, forcing mobile operators to look for potential new revenue streams in different markets and industry sectors, according to a newly published report.

The report, by analyst firm BuddeComm, says where mobile saturation has occurred, some of the operators have been forced to look for new opportunities, particularly those offered by expanding regionally or internationally.

Kylie Wansink, Budde senior research analyst – global markets, says the global mobile market has its sights firmly set on the opportunities offered through mobile data “as well as looking for potential new revenues streams presented by the enterprise sector, data mining, 5G and international expansion”.

And she says the shift by operators to look for new market opportunities has occurred in most regions of the world – and as a result some operators have become “powerful and dominant regional leaders”.

In the Pacific region Wansink notes that the Australian mobile market is dominated by the three major mobile network operators Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, though, she says, “there are numerous MVNOs which have a significant market share”.

“These have been able to offer LTE services on a wholesale basis since early 2016, thus encouraging growth in the LTE sector and cementing the role which MVNOs play in the overall market."

Fiji is cited by Wansink as one of the telecoms leaders in the South Pacific region, along with Papua New Guinea.

And, she says, similar to many developing nations, Fiji is heavily reliant on mobile technologies rather than fixed lines.

According to the Budde report, the percentage of unique mobile subscribers in Fiji sits at around 69% – and Vodafone Fiji Limited (VFL) and Digicel Fiji are the major mobile operators and the only MVNO is Australian company, Inkk Mobile which operates on VFL’s network.

“Three mobile service operators provide services in Papua New Guinea including Digicel, Bmobile (Vodafone), and Citifon (Telikom PNG),” Wansink notes.

“However, in February 2017 it was announced that Dataco, Bmobile and Telikom PNG would be merged together to form Kumul Telikom. The three entities would be able to share resources and infrastructure, making it potentially more cost effective and competitive.”

In the more developed markets of Asia, Wansink says that growth is shifting away from a focus on subscriber numbers and towards the expansion of new generation platforms and increased data usage driven by value-added services and increased ARPUs.

“There are those companies such as SingTel, Vodafone, and Axiata (formerly Telekom Malaysia International) that have built a substantial presence around the Asian region beyond their own domestic market through their shareholdings in operators in multiple other markets."

Further afield, Wansink says that although there are a large number of network operators across the African continent, and also smaller niche MVNO players, there are also a small number of pan-regional network operators. These include Millicom, Orange Group, Vodacom and Bharti Airtel and Wansink says some rationalisation of their operations continues as these players “adjust their strategies to fit in with market positions and expectations”.

“There are a number of companies which have a large presence in the Middle East,” Wansink notes.

“Zain, Ooredoo and MTN are three examples of companies operating in multiple markets and the international players of Orange and Vodafone also operate in region.”

According to Wansink, as with Latin America and Africa, the European region is notable for having half a dozen pan-European operators with interests in several key markets.

“These main players include Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, Vodafone Group, Hutchison and TeliaSonera. There has been much jostling among these operators as they seek to strengthen their presence in particular markets,”Wansink writes.

“This has, in turn, caused some disquiet among national regulators and European competition authorities, which are keen to preserve a quorum of key players (generally four) within a given market.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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