Telcos are pressing the EU to force big tech to make a ‘fair contribution’ to their network costs, although this has drawn opposition from telecoms regulators, who rightly fear risks to the wider ecosystem

There are valid concerns to address however, with content providers not currently incentivised to deliver traffic efficiently, and telcos constrained by net neutrality rules from doing anything about it, resulting in unnecessary costs and service degradation

However, there may be better ways to address these, through reforming the implementation of existing rules to encourage more efficient content delivery, and allowing the telcos to provide enhanced delivery routes of their own, with Ofcom’s approach in the UK a step in this direction, but perhaps not a step far enough

Openreach has simultaneously announced that it is applying a full 11% inflationary price increase across all its key products, and effectively removing this price increase (and a bit more) for full fibre products through an update to its ‘Equinox’ special offer pricing.

Equinox 2's purpose is described as to encourage migration of existing connections to full fibre, but this is hard to see, and it looks more like a defence against migration to altnets and/or VMO2’s emerging wholesale proposition, albeit one that seems like it will not fall foul of regulatory rules.

Openreach will still benefit from the 11% price increase across most of its revenue base in 2022/23, and the shift to FTTP will remain accretive. Openreach’s customers will suffer from the price rise, but with a stronger outlook as they move to FTTP, while the altnet/VMO2 wholesale economics are as-you-were.

Service revenue growth was up just 0.1ppts to 2.0% this quarter, as price rises in the UK and the peak of the roaming boost offset weakness elsewhere.

Price increases to combat inflationary cost pressures are gathering momentum—a potential revenue cushion as roaming tailwinds diminish and challenging economic conditions weigh.

Vodafone is battling strategic issues in most of its main markets—significant change in strategy will be required from the new leadership.
 

Mobile service revenue growth rose to +6%—its highest level in over a decade as price increases fed through and roaming picked up.

However, there were early signs of a worsening economic environment: handset revenues and contract volumes were subdued and churn popped up for most operators.

Growth may soften from here as the roaming boost subsides and economic conditions worsen, but price rises of up to 15% in the spring could provide more resilience if fully implemented.

BT Consumer’s move to the EE brand is a gradual one, with an EE re-launch due next year set to accelerate this, although the BT and Plusnet brands will not be withdrawn in a hurry.

The company is hoping that the new converged EE will drive new revenue streams, a challenging task, but one that it is approaching with realism, and building on previous success.

BT confirmed that the inflation-plus price rise will be applied next year, along with a hope-to-be-sustained increase in front book pricing too. The cost-of-living crisis is putting pressure on ARPU, with FTTP likely to only partially compensate.

Market revenue growth of 2% in Q3 was slightly lower than the previous quarter, but remained firmly positive at least.

The dual impacts of slowing broadband volume growth and consumer price sensitivity will likely hit volumes and ARPU even harder over the tough winter to come.

Inflation-linked price increases will give some operators a boost next year, but their very high levels (c.15%) will be hard to manage during a cost-of-living squeeze.

BT maintained (proforma) revenue growth at 1% in Q2, EBITDA growth was a healthy 5%, and retail net adds were solid across broadband and mobile, with evidence of an economic crisis hard to discern.

Investors have concerns around Openreach, with a market-driven slowdown in wholesale broadband, extra capex this year, and a further ‘special offer’ price cut being negotiated for next year combining to create understandable anxiety.

We think that Openreach continues to have a healthy outlook overall, with there being greater risks in consumer and business retail revenue in toughening economic conditions, albeit this is a storm that BT has weathered very well so far.

DAZN has agreed to buy Eleven Sports, adding two untapped European markets and expanding further into South East Asia in its bid for greater scale

Team Whistle, Eleven’s short-form content production and distribution network, will provide new opportunities for marketing DAZN, especially to younger audiences

Meanwhile, DAZN Bet has soft-launched in the UK—a small first step as it seeks additional monetisation methods for expensive broadcasting rights

Mobile service revenue growth rose to its highest level in over ten years (+4.5%) as a result of the operators’ higher-than-inflation price rises.

BT/EE fared best with broadly-applied, sizeable increases and robust churn while H3G’s more modest increases and later timing led to just a minor pickup in its service revenue growth—in spite of continued strong performance on the subscriber side.

There are some early signs of an increase in consumer bargain-hunting and some payment challenges, with B2B robust for now but with an increasingly rocky outlook.

Market revenue growth continued to accelerate in Q2 to reach 3%, but broadband growth worryingly dipped as the lockdown boost waned.

Differing pricing dynamics (among other factors) led to very different outcomes for the main players, with BT’s growth surging to 7% while VMO2’s revenue stayed in decline.

Underlying trends of weakening broadband growth, keener pricing and customer bargain seeking point to slower growth ahead … until the next price increase.