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


European mobile service revenue growth improved by 0.5ppts to -7.2% in Q2 2014, but all of this and more was driven by a reduced regulatory impact; underlying growth has been stuck at around 6% for the last four quarters, with progress in some areas consistently being countered by further pricing pressure

Industry consolidation has progressed to some extent, but would have had little impact in the quarter. Further in-country mobile/mobile mergers are more than likely but uncertainty driven by the changing European Commission may be delaying decisions to move forward

The UK example shows that consolidation is not necessary for market repair, but in the present environment the smaller operators in continental Europe have every incentive to be as disruptive as possible to encourage their acquisition, so further mergers cannot come soon enough

European mobile service revenue growth again disappointed in Q4, dropping slightly from -8.9% to -9.1%, with underlying revenue growth dropping a little further from -6.0% to -6.3%, again reaching a record low

There had been hopes that improved GDP growth would drive a volume rebound, that price declines would start to annualise out, and that declining out-of-bundle usage would wane in its impact as this usage declined. In the event, ongoing price competition from smaller operators, MVNOs and quad play offerings, combined with surging use of OTT communications platforms, have dominated trends

In the medium term, the development of 4G and Vodafone’s Project Spring may bring some much needed network differentiation back to the market, allowing pricing power to return to the larger operators. However, it will be 2015-2016 before these factors come into play: in the short term, the main source of optimism is consolidation