UK mobile market Q3 2013: Flattening out

16 December 2013

UK mobile market service revenue growth improved on a reported basis in Q3 to -3%, but was unchanged on an underlying basis, still not a bad result after six consecutive quarters of underlying growth declining, albeit in the context of rapidly improving macroeconomic conditions

All four operators now offer 4G services, with O2 and Vodafone launching within the quarter and H3G in December. EE will nonetheless maintain its coverage and speed advantage for 2014, but others (most likely Vodafone) may challenge thereafter. H3G is offering 4G at no extra cost, reflecting its focus on unlimited data and meeting the capacity requirements for this, and O2 has recently cut its 4G tariffs to match those of 3G (but with a high minimum entry point), leaving EE the only operator with an explicit 4G premium

The overall outlook is mixed – we would expect some improvement to revenue growth into 2014 as the MTR impact wears off and the dilutive effect of unlimited tariffs wane, but this may be countered by a lack of mid-contract price increases, and while 4G is likely to benefit all as it drives data volumes and encourages package upgrades, the impact will be gradual

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