Publications

Format: Jun 2018
sort descending Sector(s) Date
UK mobile market Q3 2014: Growth maintained, but uncertainty ahead

UK mobile service revenue growth stayed positive in Q3 2014, albeit at a slightly lower level than last quarter, an achievement given performance in recent years, but a slight disappointment given the previous improving trend. Pricing trends were a little worrying, but data volumes continue to accelerate markedly

With Phones 4U ceasing to trade towards the end of the quarter, Q4’s subscriber shares will be largely determined by where its prior customers end up. With these representing 13% of market gross adds which implies 65% of net adds, the impact is significant

Merger talks underway with the parents of O2/EE and BT, with H3G reportedly getting involved, will have an impact whether they lead to a deal or not; if either EE or O2 (or both) remain independent within the UK, they will likely need reinvigorating and re-motivating as to their raison d’etre or risk drifting without a clear direction

 

  • Vodafone
  • O2
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • EE
Mobile, Telecoms 8 December 2014
UK mobile market Q3 2015: Stuck at 1%

UK mobile service revenue growth remained at 0.9% in Q3, but on an underlying basis growth increased 0.1ppts to 1.4%. This continues a trend of very gradual improvement in underlying growth over the past year, while reported growth has stayed constant at around 1% due to the re-introduction of regulated MTR cuts on 1 May 2015

Within the market, performances were mixed. O2 remains a service revenue growth star performer thanks to strong sustained contract net adds and stable contract ARPU while Vodafone’s service revenue growth fell back into decline as its contract ARPU suffered due to a sharp fall in out-of-bundle revenue. EE’s contract net adds were strong, but its contract ARPU growth remains weak, partly due to its renewed contract net adds performance being supported by low ARPU data devices and B2B

Since the end of the quarter, on 28 October, the CMA provisionally approved the BT/EE acquisition without conditions, and on 30 October, the EC opened an in-depth investigation into H3G/O2. Both acquirers would be wise in our view to be wary of making any rapid changes to branding and/or channel strategy, given that EE and O2 account for nearly 60% of UK gross subscriber additions between them and disrupting these sales will have a significant impact on subscriber growth, as EE’s experience since dropping Orange and T-Mobile has shown

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Telecoms 10 December 2015
UK mobile market Q3 2016: Growth recovers, but challenges await

UK mobile service revenue growth improved in Q3 to -0.8% from -1.7% in the previous quarter, a welcome turnaround after three quarters of declining growth. Pricing remains firm, data volume growth remains robust, and some of the one-off factors affecting the previous quarter have dropped out

Sky Mobile soft-launched at the end of 2016, and it is taking an aggressive approach with a very deep MVNO technical model with substantial fixed costs, a high advertising budget and ambitious internal subscriber targets. To date the fixed MVNOs have not had a substantial impact on the MNOs, targeting a customer base that is non-core, but with SIM-only on the rise this may change

Looking at recently released network performance statistics, the impact of spectrum disparities is clear, with EE both able to offer faster speeds nationwide due to its large blocks of 4G spectrum, and offer much faster speeds in London. EE also has a lead in geographic coverage, and is planning to push its coverage much further, creating a challenge for the other operators to keep up

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Liberty Global
  • O2
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Telefonica
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media, Vodafone 20 December 2016
UK mobile market Q3 2017: Returns to scale

Mobile service revenue growth dipped this quarter but this was likely entirely due to the predictable (and predicted) impact of the abolition of EU roaming surcharges.  On an underlying basis, growth improved

BT/EE extended its lead in both service revenue and contract subscriber growth terms. EE’s substantial investments in network quality and customer service have driven returns to scale, and its multi-brand approach is working well

Contrasting with the returns to scale seen at EE, TalkTalk’s MVNO has suffered the reverse of this, unable to break-even despite peaking at just shy of 1 million customers, and deciding to retreat to an agency model.  Sky Mobile is performing respectably well in context, but may be headed for scale issues itself

  • BT
  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 8 December 2017
UK mobile market Q4 2012: 4G launches - little impact so far, more to come

UK mobile revenue growth was steady in Q4 at -3.9%, only a fractional drop from -3.8% in the previous quarter, with underlying growth unchanged, and contract subscriber growth and ARPU trends also unwavering, though the market solidity masked more dramatic developments in service offerings with the launch of the new EE umbrella brand and its 4G service

With the 4G spectrum auction now concluded, we can expect Vodafone and O2 to launch 4G services in the summer and H3G in the autumn; EE is looking to stay one step ahead with its recently announced speed doubling, and the intensity of marketing around 4G may even help its own service

While 4G will provide the talking points, actual financial results in 2013 will depend more on 3G base level pricing remaining firm; the signs so far are positive, with O2 having nudged up its core pricing, and mid-contract price increases scheduled by O2 and EE

  • Vodafone
  • Virgin Media
  • O2
  • Hutchison 3G
  • EE
Mobile, Telecoms 15 April 2013
UK mobile market Q4 2013: Bouncing up

UK mobile market service revenue growth improved on both a reported and underlying basis by 1.2ppts in Q4, a very welcome result after six consecutive quarters of declining underlying growth. Reported revenue is still in decline, at -1.6%, but it is the most modest decline among larger European countries, and compares to -5.0% in early 2013 EE is still leading in 4G coverage and performance, with around twice the coverage of its nearest rivals of basic 4G, double speed 4G now covering around 30% of the population, and plans for quadruple speed 4G to launch in 2014. Vodafone may prove the biggest network challenger going forward, with plans to increase capex as part of its Project Spring initiative Maintaining (or increasing) the current level of pricing is key to the industry returning to revenue growth in 2014. We would note that the smallest operator, H3G, is fairly unlikely to return to being a price discounter and put pressure on market prices, leaving the onus on the ‘big 3’ to stay disciplined, with a small but significant risk from SIM-only MVNO offers gaining more traction

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Telefonica
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 13 March 2014
UK mobile market Q4 2015: Growth softly softens

UK mobile service revenue growth dipped down in Q4, but at least remained still just positive at 0.3%. The dip was driven by contract ARPU weakness at the largest three operators, mitigated by strong ARPU growth at the smallest operator H3G

Looking forward, the sources of weakness (growth of SIM-only and tariff policy adjustments) look more temporary than the sources of growth (data volume growth filling up capacity). SIM-only is likely to hit a natural ceiling, whereas data volume growth has no ceiling in sight and the scope for network capacity expansion is limited

With CK Hutchison currently negotiating with the European Commission in regards to the fate of the H3G and O2 merger, there is a high level of uncertainty on the future of the structure of the UK mobile market. Merging the two networks would generate extra capacity and capability, likely increasing competitive intensity, but the precise form this would take is unclear, as is the future of the brands and the identity of the capacity MVNO recipient(s)

  • BT
  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 30 March 2016
UK mobile market Q4 2016 - Nearly back to growth

UK mobile service revenue growth was -0.1% in Q4, a 0.6ppt improvement from the previous quarter. This was helped by some modest price firming, continued strong data growth, and some inflation in handset prices

EE was the strongest growing operator after being the weakest just 12 months ago, with its efforts to improve customer service, network performance and perceptions of network performance starting to pay off. H3G had a strong H2, with strong customer additions while not sacrificing ARPU, although it is still clearly taking steps to manage capacity demand. O2 had another solid performance with a modest improvement in service revenue growth, and Vodafone suffered from weak ARPU primarily due to pricing pressure in the business market

The outlook for market service revenue growth is fairly positive, with ARPU-enhancing pricing moves in evidence, supported by continuing strong data volume growth, and existing customer price increases due to take effect from Q2 2017

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 13 April 2017
UK mobile market Q4 2017: Swings, roundabouts, and auctions

UK mobile service revenue growth worsened to 0.9% in the quarter from 1.5% in the previous quarter, although this was entirely due to an ARPU drop in BT/EE’s business segment. BT/EE’s consumer business is still growing strongly, and all the other operators improved their growth due to the EU roaming cut impact reducing in intensity

Looking forward, there are no further regulatory shocks on the horizon, and the annual price increases implemented in March/April are higher than previous years due to higher underlying rates of inflation. While SIM-only is likely to continue to rise, we still expect revenue growth in 2018 to be robustly positive at a similar or higher level than that of 2017

In the recent 4G/5G auction, O2 won all of the currently useable 4G spectrum available, and the 5G spectrum was split between all four operators, with H3G winning less that the others but (combined with its existing holdings) being nonetheless the largest 5G spectrum holder

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 9 April 2018
UK Mobile Operators - 'Active' Customers

The UK mobile operators have made much of their honesty in ceasing to record subscribers that have not made calls within six months. This will help analysts make a clearer judgment of how many people actually use mobiles, and what the correct figure is for ARPU. But pleasure at the apparent increase in openness should be tempered somewhat. Operators are starting to make active efforts to stop subscribers becoming 'inactive'. In the last few weeks all the UK operators appear to have adopted similar policies. These policies state that the operator will take back a subscriber's telephone number unless one call is made or one SMS is sent from the phone during each six-month period.

As important, the mobile operators are keeping a much tighter rein on inventories, effectively shifting stock risk to retailers such as Carphone Warehouse. Inventory levels throughout the supply chain will be lower. Retail price levels will be more robust – improving operator margins. But we expect total sales over the Christmas period to be lower than expected because of the higher prices in the retail chain.

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 16 August 2001
UK Mobile Spectrum Review

In January this year, Ofcom published its eagerly-awaited consultation document, “Spectrum Framework Review: Implementation Plan”, containing its plans for the release of new mobile spectrum and the liberalisation of existing mobile spectrum. This report reviews the implications of Ofcom's hesitant moves towards spectrum liberalisation and the vast amount of new mobile spectrum that will be released onto the market.

We find that the hype is overblown, with low underlying consumer interest and the potential for a mass market service still several years away due to 3G actually being an inappropriate delivery mechanism.

Handset manufacturers are likely to be the only significant winners from mobile TV, able to keep top-end handset prices high with yet another seldom-used feature.

 

Telecoms, Mobile 11 March 2005
UK mobile termination rates: down but not out

The CC determination on mobile termination rates (MTRs), if implemented, would result in a cumulative 4% reduction in UK mobile industry revenue and EBITDA by the 2010/11 financial year, but a small boost to fixed line industry EBITDA

However, even this cut does not make up for the termination rate cut ‘holiday’ that the UK mobile industry has been enjoying for the last 2-3 years, with MTRs still high in relation to retail tariffs by historic standards

On the positive side (for the MNOs), this means that increased competitive pricing pressure is unlikely in the short term; on the negative side we still expect substantial further cuts from April 2011. These cuts are broadly lagging those in the rest of Europe, so there is no negative read-across for most European MNOs

Telecoms, Mobile 29 January 2009
UK mobile termination rates: terminated

Ofcom is proposing to cut the UK mobile termination rate from 4.3ppm in 2010/11 to 0.5ppm in 2014/15. While a steep cut was expected, the extent is a surprise

The direct impact on the mobile operators is severe: a 13% impact on revenue over four years, and a 10% impact on EBITDA. While some of this may be mitigated by selective price increases, we expect the bulk to be taken on the nose

This is bad news for most UK mobile operators, but good news for the fixed operators and H3G. It also sets a worrying precedent for regulators across Europe, with the UK once again at the vanguard of low MTR setting

 

Mobile, Telecoms 5 April 2010
UK mobile user survey

The attached report contains the 2008 edition of our regular review of UK mobile user trends, based on a survey of 1,000 adults. We look at handset ownership, replacement trends, handset manufacturer choice, network operator choice, 3G handset ownership, usage of existing services such as photo-messaging and the mobile internet and, finally, interest in new services such as mobile TV and datacards

Telecoms, Mobile 7 June 2008
UK Mobile User Survey

In this report we update our regular survey of UK mobile users, with the latest survey conducted in April 2004. We look at user penetration, handset replacement rates, camera phone ownership and use, and also the market share prospects and camera phone usage for the mobile network operators.

 

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 8 May 2004
UK Mobile User Survey

Handset sales in the UK and the rest of Europe have reportedly been strong over the last few months, with camera phones selling well. In this report we look at our most recent survey of UK mobile handset owners to investigate whether this is a result of stronger consumer demand, or whether purchasers have been responding to cheaper offers from mobile operators.

 

 

 

Telecoms, Mobile 21 January 2004
UK mobile user survey 2009: iPhones, femtocells, predators and the recession

This report contains the 2009 edition of our annual review of UK mobile user trends, based on a survey of 1,000 adults

We look at handset ownership, replacement trends, handset manufacturer choice, network operator choice, 3G handset ownership, usage of existing services such as photo-messaging and the mobile internet and, finally, interest in new services such as mobile TV, datacardsand femtocells

  • O2
Telecoms, Mobile 15 July 2009
UK mobile user survey 2012: networks over handsets (apart from the iPhone)

In this report we show the findings of our 2012 UK mobile user survey. The report is a wide ranging analysis of the mobile market based on our consumer research, focusing on the competitive landscape among the mobile operators and smartphone manufacturers, and the changing consumer behaviour that has and will continue to impact the market

  • Vodafone
  • Virgin Media
  • T-Mobile
  • Orange
  • O2
  • Nokia
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Google
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • EE
  • Apple
Mobile, Telecoms 26 June 2012
UK mobile user survey 2015: Ambition versus perception

Our survey results highlighted disconnects between operator ambition and consumer perceptions across customer loyalty, network performance and quad play, with noteworthy implications for future competitive performance. O2 in particular benefited from strong branding which yielded network confidence and loyalty above that of top network investors, EE and Vodafone

Convergence prospects continue to look supplier driven with consumers reporting little interest in quad play packages even when offered with significant bundle discounts. Recent advertising campaigns have sought to change consumer perceptions of a dichotomy in mobile and fixed broadband provisioning which, if successful, will be to the benefit of all quad play hopefuls

The mobile usage disparities between 16-24 year olds and 55+ users are stark, for instance near 100% of mobile users aged 16-24 own a smartphone while for those 55+, this falls to just over half. The implications are strong for service providers in all manner of industries who are seeing new (younger) users come to market that bear little resemblance to the traditional users around whom much of the operational model is typically built

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 23 June 2016
UK mobile user survey: High on networks, low on convergence

Customer movement between operators shows susceptibility to dynamism in branding; O2 are picking up the majority of EE churners as customers move to the new “cool brand” while EE pull in Vodafone churners tempted by the new “best network”. O2 have the lowest churn though the lion’s share move to Vodafone and H3G churners are more evenly picked up by the other three

Customer perceptions of own operator network quality are high among the big 3 with no less than 75% of customers reporting theirs is the best network. O2 is the best regarded while H3G is the least best regarded highlighting a stark contrast between the (prospective) merging parties

Consumers report little interest in quad play and indeed operators in the both fixed and mobile markets have publicly confirmed the same from other market research. However the arrival of converged players in the form of a merged BT/EE or Vodafone re-entering the fixed space will see operators seeking to change this

  • Vodafone
  • Telefonica
  • T-Mobile
  • Orange
  • O2
  • Nokia
  • Hutchison 3G
  • BT
  • EE
Fixed Line, Mobile, Telecoms 28 January 2015

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