Global Mobile Telecommunications Industry

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Mobile Telecommunications Industry-Europe (Part 2)

The European telecommunications industry is increasing in size and in technological advancements. Higher revenues and more efficient/effective mobile network service capabilities are providing greater and faster coverage at lower costs with decreased human operated maintenance.


  • Continuing developments are expected in fully integrating mobile telecommunications with other aspects of living, including vehicle and home connectivity, and even the creation of smart cities.
  • It's well understood that consumers have "an insatiable appetite for mobile data." With such an intense consumer demand coupled with consistent and rapid advancements in telecommunications quality and offerings, the mobile telecommunications market seems to have nearly limitless opportunity for expansion.
  • These advancements may also spur telecommunications companies into expanding over wider regions, including more in-depth arrays of service areas in an attempt to balance pricing.
  • Unlimited data plans are also becoming not only more common, but approaching total market control/engagement at a rapid pace.
  • With increased quality of mobile telecommunications services, new technological breakthroughs such as augmented and virtual reality are becoming more available to a broader consumer base.
  • Voice assistance through mobile telecommunications is still rising in popularity, having reached use rates of 69% of customers weekly, and 47% of customers daily.
  • Satellite system providers are also being implemented to massively increase mobile telecommunications effectiveness and range, reaching excessively remote locations through direct communication, reducing the need for centralized data flow on Earth's surface.


  • At the end of 2017, the mobile industry in Europe was worth €143 billion and is expected to reach €144 billion at the end of 2025 at a CAGR of 0.1%. This indicates that at the end of 2019, the mobile industry will be worth approximately €143.3 billion (€143 billion *1.001^2).


  • "Mobile operators in Europe have invested heavily" in 4G networks over the past years. As of 2017, 4G services covered 97% of the population and are estimated to increase to 98% in 2025. 
  • LTE Advanced Pro is a new standard (2018 findings) in Europe, providing improved transfer and latency rates. "Over the past 3 years, 17 LTE Advanced Pro networks have launched in the region." Technology is continuing to advance, providing even more powerful telecommunications networks that may further improve the future outlook and market presence of mobile network providers.
  • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are secondary providers of mobile telecommunications services through excess capacities of primary network providers that own and operate physical telecommunications equipment and locations.
  • According to a 2018 report by Billrun, MVNOs are seeing their highest success rates in Europe from approximately 10% to 40% of the mobile market. There were 599 MVNOs in the region in 2015.  As telecommunications markets expand, there may be further opportunity for these types of companies to capitalize on increased mobile communication capacities.
  • Europe's mobile operators are investing in further "development of the Internet of Things (IoT) market, with commercial launches of Licensed Low Power Wide Areas (LPWAs) across the region."
  • LPWA networks provide lower maintenance telecommunications services while still covering larger areas, making a highly economical and effective mobile network that outperforms many traditional telecommunications service methods.


  • At the end of 2017, there were 285 million 4G connections, accounting for 42% of total connections in Europe. 4G has now surpassed 3G as the leading mobile technology in the region. This demonstrates a continuing trend of technological advancement that is constantly evolving, creating newer, faster networks, and providing enhanced services.
  • As network types develop, The European Commission expects 5G to be commercially available in at least one major city in each EU country by 2020. It is estimated that there will be 203 million 5G connections by 2025.
  • As 5G networks are becoming more popular, costs per customer are expected to decrease as mobile connectivity packages/plans are made more accessible to the total public, in part due to the expanding lucrative market with higher revenue and profit margins.
  • 5G may also have significant opportunities in implementing blockchain technology that can simplify data systems and create self-managed networks.
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Mobile Telecommunications Industry-US (Part 2)

Stiff competition, rise in the number of unique subscribers, and LTE adoption are some industry drivers for the mobile telecommunications industry in the United States.


  • Competition across different vectors including service options, price, network speed, access & availability, and network investment drives the mobile telecommunication industry in the United States.
  • Over the years, mobile telecommunication providers have focused on expanding and adjusting data plans and pricing options — "including adding new plans and reintroducing unlimited data plans to the marketplace."
  • They have also concentrated on increasing network speeds. Between 2014 and 2017, "the mean LTE download speed increased well over 60 percent."
  • The four key players in the market have increased their accessibility and availability in local and regional markets to cater for a substantial majority of consumers.
  • Mobile network operators in the country have also made "capital investments of more than $200 billion over the past seven years."


  • The growth in the number of unique subscribers has increased in the last five years for the top mobile operators in the United States, which control more than 98% of the mobile telecommunication industry. The growth has driven the size of the market in the same period.
  • There were 153.97 million (Q3 2018) subscribers under Verizon USA, having increased from 116.75 million in Q1 2013.
  • AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint had 150.25 million, 77.25 million, and 53.51 million mobile telecommunications subscribers in Q3 2018, respectively, in the United States. In Q1 2013, the three mobile operators reported the following number of subscribers: 107.25 million (AT&T), 33.97 million (T-Mobile), and 54.89 million (Sprint).


  • The adoption of LTE/4G technology is driving the growth of the mobile telecommunication industry in the United States as consumers demand for faster network access.
  • The country continues to lead the world in the adoption of 4G, with more than half of mobile connections in 2015 with 4G coverage. "This is well ahead of the developed market average of 34%, and Europe at around 17%."
  • In 2017, the latest data available, 4G mobile coverage in the United States accounted for a total of 70% of US mobile connections.


  • To get a glimpse of what the future of mobile telecommunication industry will look like in the US, investment in the Fifth generation (5G) wireless technologies is the central message among mobile network operators.
  • The 5G standards promise "increased data rates, hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for wireless sensors, enhanced spectral and signaling efficiency and significantly reduced latency."
  • Already T-Mobile and Sprint have the plan to merge to afford the massive build-out required for offering true 5G services to rural areas. The plan is to roll out a "next-generation 5G network that covers 97% of the U.S. within three years of the merger, and 99% within six years."
  • AT&T and Verizon have not been left out in the future of 5G disruption. AT&T is currently testing "mobile 5G with an invitation-only launch in limited parts of 12 cities," and Verizon promises to launch 5G services with very high speeds of more than 450 Mbps in the near future.

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Mobile Telecommunications Industry-South Africa (Part 2)

Rising data demand, value-added bundles, and MTR rate cuts are some industry drivers for the mobile telecommunications industry in South Africa.


  • The demand for mobile data in South Africa is now growing as fast as anywhere in the world and the largest mobile network operators, with over 98% of the market, Vodacom (42.39%), MTN (29.44%), Cell C (16.88%), and Telkom (9.52%), are concentrating their energies.
  • For fiscal year 2018/2019, Vodacom saw a rise in data revenue of 3.9%, the fourth year with data as the company's biggest earner, "contributing 43.5% to service revenue."
  • Additionally, data traffic was also up 35.6% for Vodacom SA.
  • Like Vodacom, the rise in data revenue as a result of data demand is witnessed by other mobile operators. In 2018, MTN's data revenue increased by 26.7%, Cell C's by 20% on the back of a "62% increase in data traffic," and Telkom 56%.


  • Growth in South Africa's mobile telecommunication market is also driven "by value-added bundles offering low-income segments cheaper access to voice and data services."
  • Vodacom launched the "affordable daily and hourly “bite-size” data bundles" in FY 2014/2015 registering a rise in data adoption and impacting the shift of prepaid customers to bundle usage. In that period, prepaid data bundle sales went up 139.2%, and there's been an increase each year since, with an additional 13.4% in 2017.
  • MTN SA for its part, offers "attractive data promotions," including data bundles and "segmented e-journey communications." As a result, data sales have seen a surge in demand in the last four years to 2018.


  • The other industry driver impacting the mobile telecommunications sector in South Africa is the ICASA’s 2014 decision to cut mobile termination rates (MTRs) by 50% — "a move that had a significant impact on operations at the country’s two largest mobile operators, Vodacom, and MTN SA."
  • This announcement slashed call rates from R40 ($3.46) to R20 ($1.73) for Vodacom SA and MTN SA thereby reducing the cost to communicate.
  • Recently, the watchdog (ICASA) published that it will further cut termination rates for established players to ZAR0.12 ($0.0084) per minute.


  • According to Graham Mackinnon, chief legal officer at Cell C South Africa, in the future, mobile network operators will consolidate into one or two networks in the country.
  • Although the mobile telecommunication companies will continue to exist, they will compete at a service level rather than at a network level.
  • A bill recently passed will see "service providers with at least 25% of South Africa network infrastructure" share it with competitors.

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Mobile Telecommunications Industry-US (Part 1)

Verizon (34.91%), AT&T (34.07%), T-Mobile (17.51%), and Sprint (12.13%) are the United States’ largest players in the mobile telecommunications market.


  • The mobile telecommunication industry in the United States is worth about $283 billion- registering a 0.6% growth from 2014.


  • Four major players in the country's mobile telecommunication industry are Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. “Their combined market shares in the wireless carrier space is over 98%.”
  • Verizon and AT&T are by far the country's biggest mobile operators, accounting for about 34.91% and 34.07%, respectively, of the mobile telecommunications market.
  • T-Mobile is the United States’ third-largest mobile operator with a market share of approximately 17.51%.
  • Sprint’s, the fourth-largest mobile operator in the country, market share is 12.13%.



  • There are 156.1 million (Q2 2019) subscribers under Verizon USA.
  • AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have 159.7 million, 83.1 million, and 54.5 million mobile telecommunications subscribers (Q2 2019), respectively, in the United States.
  • In 2017, the latest data available, 4G mobile coverage in the United States accounted for a total of 70% of US mobile connections.
  • It is estimated that 5G mobile connections will account for 49% of total US mobile connections by 2025.
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Mobile Telecommunications Industry-South Africa (Part 1)

Vodacom (42.39%), MTN (29.44%), Cell C (16.88%), and Telkom (9.52%) are South Africa's largest players in the mobile telecommunications market.


  • As of March 2019, there were "approximately 102 million mobile connections" in South Africa — an increase of about 7 million new mobile network connections, from around 95 million, as of March 2018.


  • Four major players in the mobile telecommunication industry in South Africa are Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom.
  • Vodacom is by far the country's biggest mobile operator, accounting for 42.39% of the mobile telecommunications market.
  • MTN's market share is approximately 29.44%.
  • Cell C is South Africa's third-largest mobile operator with a market share of 16.88%.
  • Telkom's, the fourth-largest mobile operator in the country, market share nears 10% (is 9.52%).


  • Mobile operators in South Africa have invested heavily in 4G network nationwide, with MTN scoring over 80% 4G coverage and the rest over seventy percent connectivity.
  • In recent years, mobile operators have aimed at providing network capabilities, with the focus "on backhaul capacity, fiber, and LTE networks to extend and improve internet service connectivity."
  • Mobile operators also provide mobile voice services, as well as VoIP services.
  • According to a 2018 report by Tech Central, "MVNO concept is still relatively new to the South African market" but is gaining market share. There are 19 MVNOs nationwide using Cell C's infrastructure to provide mobile services to their retail clients.


  • There are 43.2 million subscribers under Vodacom SA.
  • MTN, Cell C, and Telkom have 30 million, 17.2 million, and 9.7 million mobile telecommunications subscribers, respectively, in South Africa.
  • The mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) have about 1.8 million subscribers in the sector.
  • GSMA Intelligence estimates that mobile operators' penetration rate is about 172%, as of the first half of 2019.
  • At the end of 2018, there were more than 50 million people connected to 4G in South Africa.