Archive for February, 2017

Netherlands’ all-in-one market bolstered by VodafoneZiggo joint venture

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The Dutch telecom market has one of the most mature broadband sectors in the world, with effective cross-platform competition. DSL infrastructure provides national coverage while the HFC sector, dominated by the newly created joint venture VodafoneZiggo, reaches about 95% of households. In addition there is a strong and rapidly growing fibre sector, with the networks of the incumbent telco KPN being supplemented by a number of municipal projects.

KPN has also launched ‘Vplus’ technologies with the expectation of delivering data at up to 400Mb/s with future upgrades, while Liberty Global, joint owner of VodafoneZiggo, is at the forefront in deploying cable services based on the DOCSIS3.1 standard, capable of delivering data at more than 1Gb/s. The market share held by DSL, once the dominant platform, has fallen consistently for several years as customers migrate to faster cable and fibre-based networks. The market share held by DSL, once the dominant platform, has fallen consistently for several years as customers migrate to faster cable and fibre-based networks. By early 2017 fibre accounted for more than 16% of all fixed-line broadband connections.

There is also strong competition in the mobile sector. Competitive pressure once encouraged Deutsche Telekom to consider selling its T-Mobile Netherlands unit, though this unit has been strengthened by the acquisition in late 2016 of Vodafone Netherlands’ fixed-line business. As a result, T-Mobile Netherlands unit is now also able to offer quad-play services and provide more effective competition to KPN.

The number of mobile subscribers in the Dutch market has continued to grow strongly, though much of this growth can be attributed to the M2M and mobile broadband sectors. Slower growth in traditional SIM cards is partly the result of higher mobile penetration and also to competition on pricing which has meant that subscribers have less cause to acquire SIM cards from different providers to capitalise on cheaper on-net tariffs.

In common with other European markets, the LTE sector is the main driver, supported by the combination of high smartphone penetration, competitive pricing for mobile data bundles, and the universal coverage of LTE networks provided by the network operators. In some rural areas with poor fixed-line broadband coverage MNOS offer LTE services as a fixed broadband replacement. In addition, a 5G research platform was set up in late 2016 as a test bed for future applications and services based on the anticipated 5G standard.

This report details the key aspects of the Dutch telecoms market. It provides updated data on fixed network services, profiles the major operators, and reviews the key regulatory issues including interconnection, local loop unbundling, number portability, carrier preselection, and provisions for competitor access to cable and fibre infrastructure. The report also provides statistics and analyses on the mobile market, including regulatory issues and an assessment of emerging mobile data services and technologies. In addition the report covers the digital TV and videostreaming sectors as well as the fixed-line and wireless broadband sectors. It assesses operator strategies in relation to technologies including vectoring VDSL, FttP and DOCSIS3.1, analyses regulatory measures affecting network access, and provides broadband subscriber forecasts for selective years through to 2021.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Netherlands – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

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Mobile network operators in the Middle East rise to the challenges

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Many Middle Eastern mobile operators are facing increased challenges in the mobile sector, due primarily to regulatory reforms, liberalisation, Over-The-Top providers, economic and civil conditions, the lifting of sanctions (Iran) and mobile market saturation.

Competition in particular has grown in many markets. Saudi Arabia, which has the largest ICT market in the Middle East, has seen mobile market competition increase significantly with the introduction of MVNOs; along with a reduction in Mobile Termination Rates (MTRS).

The level of competition differs between country to country however. The mobile market in the UAE, for example, is served by a duopoly comprised of incumbent Etisalat and, since 2007, competing operator du. Both operators are majority owned by the government.

In Israel, factors that have helped drive competition include the introduction of full mobile number portability and the installation of regulatory barriers that prevent operators from linking sales of handsets to services, or offering discounts to customers that commit to longer periods. Strong competition in Israel has led to operators focusing on mobile data and content opportunities as well as on costs, resulting in a number of infrastructure sharing agreements.

To cope with rising competition in Bahrain, Batelco, expanded its operations internationally to offset the competitive domestic market and its foreign operations now contribute almost 60% to group revenues.

In Lebanon, there has been growing pressure from both consumers and the telecommunications minister to see the two mobile operators (Alfa and Touch) lower mobile pricing. In response, the operators began offering cheaper packages in late 2016. Jordan’s mobile operators have also begun to experience a similar growing discontent from its mobile consumers as its telecoms sector is one of the most highly taxed in the region.

Taxes have also impacted upon Iraq’s telecoms markets where the mobile operators’ revenues have declined due partly to the 20% tax levy placed against mobile services in 2015.

The mobile market in Kuwait is highly competitive amongst the three major mobile providers, (Zain, Ooredoo, Viva) and while Zain has the highest market share of about 38%, the other two are not far behind, capturing over 30% each as well.

The various OTT messaging providers have disrupted the market in Oman. This has caused a decline in revenue from streams such as SMS as well as voice for the traditional operators. To combat this trend, the major operators in Oman are focusing on improving the customer experience through both fixed and mobile network upgrades.

In Qatar, both Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar have launched mobile broadband services, underpinned by 3G or LTE networks. Adoption of such services provides a new revenue growth opportunity as the mobile voice market has come under increased competition.

The operators in Syria face additional issues surrounding security concerns, power outages, staff retention and access to diesel. Despite this challenging environment, there are some glimpses of hope with both mobile operators reporting growth in mobile data services. Growth in Yemen’s mobile market however has all but reached a stalemate due to ongoing civil unrest.

Generally speaking, the mobile operators have risen to the challenges presented across the various markets. By using methods such as network infrastructure sharing, international expansion, acquisitions and partnerships, cost cutting and service improvements, many of the operators continue to survive and even grow. Focusing on mobile broadband opportunities is becoming particularly beneficial to many operators.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Middle East – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs

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Switzerland improves broadband speeds under new universal service obligations

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Switzerland has a sophisticated telecom sector and enjoys one of the highest broadband penetration rates in the OECD. Its competitive mobile market is served by three network operators and a small number of MVNOs while the broadband market is dominated by Swisscom and the main cableco UPC, though there are a large number of smaller players in the market, many providing services to local communities. UPC has gained scale in recent years by acquiring a number of its partner networks.

The mobile market has undergone a number of changes in recent years, with the operator Salt (formerly Orange Switzerland) having been acquired by NJJ Capital in February 2015, and with Sunrise having been acquired by a private equity firm, CVC Capital Partners. Following an IPO in February 2016 Sunrise raised CHF2.274 billion. Shortly afterwards a 23.8% stake in Sunrise was sold to the German mobile services provider freenet. The market has also benefited from the entry of UPC, which provides mobile voice and data services as an MVNO. As a full-service provider of quad-play bundles UPC can compete more effectively with Sunrise and Swisscom.

Mobile penetration is on a par with the European average while mobile data use among consumers has increased rapidly in line with the expended reach of technologies including HSPA and LTE. Customer use of mobile data services is helping to offset declining ARPU and lower traffic in the SMS segment as consumers adopt a range of OTT messaging services. Higher data usage also encouraged Swisscom to decide to switch off its 2G infrastructure and utilise these network assets for LTE and forthcoming 5G services.

In the broadband sector there is effective cross-platform competition. The DSL market is dominated by Swisscom’s retail offerings, while UPC offers cable broadband in most cities and towns. Its extension of 500Mb/s services helped spur Swisscom to intensify its own VDSL, G.fast and FttP network rollouts in a bid to remain competitive.

There has been a government focus on broadband deployment of ‘ultra-fast’ broadband, or that defined as at least 100Mb/s. This depends on the growing footprint of technologies based on fibre, LTE and the new DOCSIS3.1 standard. By 2020 fixed-line networks are expected to deliver at least 100Mb/s to 85% of the population, while LTE should cover 100% by that date.

This report presents a statistical profile of Switzerland’s telecom market. It assesses the regulatory environment, noting the status of local loop unbundling, as well as recent developments in the universal service obligation. It also evaluates the strategies and performance of major service providers Swisscom, UPC and Sunrise, and looks ahead to market developments in coming years. The report in addition analyses the broadband market, including profiles of the main players in the DSL, cable, fibre and wireless sectors. It details technological developments, provides broadband forecasts to 2021, and examines regulatory issues related to municipal fibre, local loop unbundling, and the provision of broadband as a universal service. This report also assesses the mobile market, presenting an analysis on the regulatory environment, profiles of the main providers and updates on developments with emerging technologies including 5G.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Switzerland – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

 

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Mobile growth subsides in Turkmenistan in an increasingly mature market

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Turkmenistan’s telecommunications market in this poor and predominantly rural country is relatively small. Its telecom services were considered to be the least developed of all the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries when they took shape. Since then, poor growth in telecom services can be attributed to a large extent to the slow development of the private sector and state control over most economic activities. Efforts to move towards a more market-oriented economy have been limited. In the telecoms sector there has been some progress, but this limited progress has in turn been overwhelmed by significant setbacks.

Turkmen Telecom has been the primary provider of telecommunication services, and through a subsidiary, TM-Cell, it has been operating a GSM mobile network in competition with a private mobile operator, MTS Turkmenistan, a subsidiary of the Russian-based MTS. Not surprisingly it has been the mobile services that have been dominating the expansion activity. Turkmenistan’s mobile market has experienced very strong growth over the last few years, however the market has moved closer to a saturation phase with a subsequent slowing in the growth rate. Market penetration reached 148% in 2016. Market penetration in the mobile market is predicted to reach between over 150% by 2021.

Turkmenistan has experienced a number of problems relating to communications technology. Despite recent efforts to upgrade the country’s telecom infrastructure, the telephone network remained poorly developed and many villages have been left without telephone services. Fixed line penetration over the past four years has been increasing slowly from a relatively small base. Penetration increased to only 12% in 2016.

The penetration of internet users in Turkmenistan has been growing moderately over the past four years from a relatively small base. Penetration has increased from 10% in 2013 to 12% in 2014, 15% in 2015 and 17% in 2016. Broadband access remains limited in scale and nature. Fixed broadband penetration reached less than 1% by 2016 and penetration is predicted to continue to remain low over the next five years to 2021.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Turkmenistan – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

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Spain’s regulator improves wholesale access covering 65% of the population

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

In recent years the value of Spain’s telecom market has fallen steadily, with the sector affected by the poor economic climate which has contributed to high unemployment and reduced disposable income among consumers. However, a five-year recession, with tumbling GDP, effectively ended in 2014 when the economy showed a steady return to growth for four quarters in succession. Growing confidence among investors was palpable starting in 2015, and the improved business climate augurs well for the sector into 2017.

Spain has one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, with effective competition from four MNOs and a growing number of resellers and MVNOs. This competition, together with regulated roaming and MTRs, has driven down the cost of mobile calls in recent years though the number of subscribers has fallen since 2011 as customers cancel multiple SIM card ownership in response to the economic crisis. The market has seen considerable changes in recent years, including the acquisition of Yoigo by Másmóvil and the release of 900MHz frequencies for mobile broadband use. There have also been growing investments in network upgrades to support LTE and HSPA+ technologies, while MNOs and vendors are also investing in 5G technologies and services. The auction of additional spectrum in 2016 is helping operators keep pace with the growth in demand for mobile data. Both Orange Spain and Vodafone Spain have acquired fixed-line operators in a bid to compete more effectively with Movistar in their bundled service offerings.

Broadband penetration is on a par with the EU average. Subscribers continue to contend with relatively high access price, though access speeds have recently begun to improve in line with upgraded networks. The incumbent telco Telefónica, operating under the Movistar brand, has invested in fibre infrastructure while cablecos now commonly provide data at up to 300Mb/s. The regulator has in recent years promoted fibre network sharing, and has developed a pricing structure for shared fibre infrastructure. In early 2017 it formulated new conditions for wholesale access to Telefónica’s fibre networks covering some 65% of the population. In the cable sector, Vodafone Spain is in the process of delivering DOSCIS3.1 technology capable of providing data at above 1Gb/s.

The strong growth in the number of fibre broadband connections is beginning to tell on the sector’s dynamics. Although several operators are investing in fibre, either in their own networks or through sharing arrangements, Telefónica is by far the dominant player.

This report introduces the key aspects of the Spanish telecom market, providing statistics on the fixed-network services sector, and profiling the main players and their strategies to meet an increasingly competitive environment. The report also assesses the main regulatory issues, noting the status of interconnection, local loop unbundling, number portability and carrier preselection. In addition the report provides statistics and market analyses on the mobile sector, including an assessment of regulatory issues, a profile of the major providers, and an analysis of mobile data services such as SMS, MMS, i-mode, HSPA, LTE, 5G and mobile TV. The report also covers the fixed and wireless broadband markets, together with developments in related technologies such as fibre and broadband powerline. It includes broadband subscriber forecasts to 2021.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Spain – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

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