1 - 15 August, 2003

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Mobile Subscriber Growth Seems to Stop

According to a new research report released by Analysys, subscriber numbers in Western Europe's mobile telephone market will stagnate at around the 300 million mark for the foreseeable future. However, there are some positive signs for mobile operators, with the long-term decline in average revenue per user (ARPU) starting to level out.

The report, Western European Mobile Forecasts and Analysis 2002-2007, predicts a mobile subscriber growth of 6% for this year, down significantly from the 17% growth achieved last year and the 53% growth of 2000.

"The industry has had a very slow year so far, with Western European subscriber numbers growing less than 3% in the first six months of 2002, and barely increasing at all in some countries, such as Germany," comments Katrina Bond, lead author of the report. "Most people in Western Europe who want a mobile phone already have one, but operators are starting to see some success in improving the amount of revenue they get from each customer."

E-Plus in Germany was among the operators showing the greatest improvement in ARPU during this year, while O2 Germany, O2 UK, Orange UK, T-Mobile UK, Telia in Sweden and Telecom Italia Mobile also showed signs that they were on the verge of reversing the long-term decline in ARPU.

This potential turn-around has been helped to a large degree by marked growth in the percentage of revenue that operators are obtaining from non-voice services. Analysys forecasts that Western European operators will earn 13% of their revenue from non-voice services this year, compared to 8.8% in 2001 and 5.3% in 2000. "This is a positive trend, but for it to continue operators must succeed with the new messaging and entertainment services that are being introduced now," warns Bond.

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