The Telecoms Market Moving Into 2014
Activity in the UFB market is progressing steadily, with a growing number of connections to schools, businesses and consumers. Premises are migrating from copper to fibre, and with it consumers are able to make greater use of IP-delivered content and services provided by faster speeds. Activity in the other telecoms markets has developed following the launch of LTE services by both Vodafone and Telecom.
The fixed-line voice market (voice calls and local access) continues to lose overall share of the telecom services market, partly caused by the drop in call prices and volumes as the uptake of mobile and other P2P services continues.
The fibre-backbone network will become the predominant infrastructure and it will provide its services to the other market sectors including energy, manufacturing, healthcare, education, as well as the rural sector through wireless access. With all these sectors involved we will see the telco businesses morph from the traditional telephony access provider to content service providers. Telcos, ISPs and the other service providers will have an opportunity to become the ICT providers to these market sectors.
The larger sectors, in particular, will create a large demand for value-added infrastructure services. All of this will assist the industry to double its size to more than $14 billion by 2020. In this report we provide scenario-based forecast for the mobile sector as well as some market forecasts and background information on the other markets in the economy.
In late 2013 Telecom launched commercial LTE services, competing with Vodafone which had launched the South Island’s first LTE network earlier in the year, complementing an existing service in Auckland.
Mobile market penetration, at around 120-125%, is growing steadily as operators provide add-on packs attracting increased usage at a lower cost. With spectrum auctions allowing for the expansion of LTE networks, and further regional deployment of 3G coverage under the RBI, we expect to see steady subscriber growth across the networks.
New Zealand’s third mobile operator 2degrees has enjoyed solid subscriber growth since launching services in 2009. The operator has around 20% overall market share of subscribers and a 12% share of mobile services revenue. Having secured spectrum in the 700MHz band in late 2013, the company may nevertheless find it difficult to compete against Vodafone and Telecom after the remaining block of 2x5MHz spectrum is auctioned: if either of the main players secure this block they would have twice the allocation of 2degrees.
Further consumer take-up of mobile broadband services is anticipated following the auction of digital dividend spectrum in the 700MHz band, as this spectrum is put to use to deliver mobile data.
New Zealand has enjoyed one of the highest yearly increases in fixed broadband penetration in recent years. The overall number of broadband subscribers grew by just under 10% in 2013, maintaining the momentum seen since 2010. The principal growth areas have been in the mobile broadband and fibre sectors. The number of fibre subscribers will continue to increase substantially over the coming years as the ultra-fast broadband service for urban dwellers sees increased uptake among consumers.
The uptake of mobile broadband will be bolstered by the expansion of mobile technologies based on LTE, and be supported by the Rural Broadband Initiative rollout which will add a large number of mobile cells to new areas. Although growth in the number of mobile broadband subscribers will slow as mobile penetration becomes further saturated, a further stimulant is expected from the impetus of the younger demographic migrating from fixed-line to mobile-only broadband services.
The uptake of fibre was slow during the first year of deployment as such new developments must compete with existing technologies and many customers have waited for existing contracts with ISPs to expire before switching to a new provider.
The number of mobile broadband subscribers increased by around 10% in 2013, while the number of mobile internet handset connections grew by almost 30%. Higher growth rates have been stymied by the lack of ubiquitous mobile broadband coverage, as well as the high cost of such services on a short-term basis. Some of these issues should be addressed in coming years through the extension of services based on LTE by Vodafone and Telecom, and by their anticipated introduction from 2degrees in 2014. The national availability of reliable and fast mobile broadband services will be crucial if all citizens are to take advantage of new opportunities offered.
Competition in the delivery of mobile broadband from the telcos is pushing down prices while contributing to even greater regional coverage. The commitment from the government and the ongoing multi-million dollar investment in delivering widespread access to high-speed broadband may present a further hurdle for wireless providers, given that the national UFB/RBI infrastructure will close most of the gaps in coverage.
Digital Economy and Digital Media
The digital economy across New Zealand will have the necessary infrastructure for development to ignite e-government, e-commerce and digital media across the country once the Ultra-fast broadband / Rural Broadband Initiative (UFB/RBI) is completed during the next 5-10 years.
By the end of 2014 almost 400,000 premises will be connected to the network, increasing to about 1.2 million by 2019. Businesses and residences will be able to access data rates ten times faster than current rates, enabling them to operate services in the cloud and take better advantage of opportunities within the global market place. The digital economy will be driven by some of the digital media companies that continue to play an increasingly important role in the telecommunications markets.
FTA television and the pay TV sector are revising their business models to adapt to the growing trend among consumers to view online content rather than linear TV. The trend has become acute during the last two years as telecom infrastructure has improved, allowing a greater proportion of consumers to take advantage of content from YouTube and other video sites, as well as catch-up services. The broadcasting and digital media industries are having to keep up with these changes in the market place.
Pay TV penetration in New Zealand was around 50% by late 2013. The introduction of the cut-price monthly subscription model, Igloo, in late 2012 may increase household penetration but the real threat is that this model will cannibalise the existing user base as customers churn to cheaper monthly rates. As the UFB consumer base eventually increases other competitive threats by other media models will see uptake of other media based subscription services, lowering the viability of the current model.
For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:
New Zealand – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts