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International expansion has strengthened the operations of many mobile operators

In 2017 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.

Mobile saturation has occurred in many of the developed markets and this has forced some of the operators to look for new opportunities – particularly those offered by expanding regionally or internationally. This has occurred in most regions of the world – and as a result some operators have become powerful and dominant regional leaders.

In Latin America, for example, the mobile market continues to be dominated by a small number of operators which each have businesses in multiple countries.  These include Telefónica Group; Mexico’s América Móvil, trading as Telcel in its domestic market and as Claro in the remaining 16 markets in the region; Telecom Italia, AT&T Mexico and Millicom International. The dominance of these operators is being gradually eroded however as a result of efforts by a number of national regulators to facilitate the entry of MVNOs and to encourage the participation of smaller players in spectrum auctions.

In the more developed markets of Asia, 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.

In the Pacific region; the Australian mobile market is dominated by the three major mobile network operators Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone (VHA), though 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 one of the telecoms leaders in the South Pacific region, along with Papua New Guinea. Similar to many developing nations, it is heavily reliant on mobile technologies rather than fixed lines. The percentage of unique mobile subscribers in Fiji sits at around 69%. 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). 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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.

This BuddeComm publication provides a global overview of the mobile market, supported by statistics as well as an overview of the mobile markets for each major region of the world. Country case studies for each region are also included, along with identification of the major MNOs and MVNOs operating in each region/country.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Global Mobile Operators – Regional Leaders – Overview and Statistics