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What you need to know: This weblog captures key data points in the development of the global telecoms industry.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Unicom to Rollout 3G to 284 Cities

China Unicom said its capital spending in 2009 will soar to 110 billion Chinese yuan (16.1 billion US dollars) from 70.5 billion in 2008. Aiming to offer 3G services in 284 cities across China, the company plans to spend 38.7 billion yuan on its WCDMA network in 2009.

In 2008, China Unicom's revenue declined 1.2% to 148.91 billion yuan as the company's fixed-line operations struggled. Mobile revenue was boosted by growth in usage of value-added services, such as SMS, GPRS and ringtones, which accounted for 24.9% of total revenue from the mobile business, representing an increase of 3.3 percentage points over 2007. source: China Unicom presentation

Revenue Rises in China

China's telecoms industry generated revenue of 128.86 billion Chinese yuan (18.86 billion US dollars) in the first two months of 2009, 2% higher than the same period in 2008, according to government statistics.

In January and February, total mobile phone traffic was 505 billion minutes, up 18% on the same period in 2008, while 131.47 billion text messages were exchanged, an increase of 13% on the same period last year.

In the first two months of 2009, the number of mobile data service subscribers in China rose 35 million to 289 million., while the number of fixed broadband subscribers rose 3 million to 86 million. source: Interfax

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chunghwa Tweaks Capex Upwards

As it deploys next generation fixed and mobile networks, Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan send it plans annual capital spending of between 30 billion Taiwanese dollars (880 million US dollars) and 32 billion Taiwanese dollars over the next two to three years compared with 30.1 billion for 2008.

In 2008, Chunghwa's total revenue increased by 2% to 202 billion Taiwanese dollars, boosted by growing usage of mobile data services, but curbed by regulation. Revenue for 2008 from mobile "value added services" was 7 billion Taiwanese dollars, representing a 25% increase over 2007, including a rise in SMS revenue of 21% and a rise in mobile Internet revenue of 39%. source: Chunghwa Telecom statement

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stalling in Greece

Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) said it expects its 2009 revenues and operating profits to be roughly in line with 2008 as lower fixed-line sales in Greece are offset by gains in Romania. In 2008, the Athens-based company's revenue climbed 1.4% to 6.41 billion euros.

OTE said challenges for 2009 include irrational pricing moves by fixed and mobile competitors, declining currencies in certain countries and unpredictable regulatory decisions. source: OTE statement

iPhone Leads U.S., Nokia Ahead in India

The Apple iPhone accounted for 16% of mobile Internet traffic in the U.S. in February 2009, according to data from AdMob, which serves ads for more than 6,000 mobile web sites and 1,000 applications around the world. The Apple iPod Touch was placed second with 11%, and the Motorola RAZR V3 third with 6%.

In India, the Nokia 3110c accounted for the most mobile Internet traffic (7%), followed by the Nokia N70 (6%) and the Nokia 6233 (4%). AdMob's data also suggests that mobile Internet traffic in Asia in February 2009 was four times the traffic in February 2008. source: AdMob report

For commentary on this report, please see my post at the Mobile Innovation Exchange.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

ZTE Predicts Double Digit Growth

Lin Cheng, president of ZTE’s western Europe operations, told the Financial Times, that the economic slowdown will reduce ZTE's group revenue growth in 2009, compared with 2008, but it will still be in double digits. source: Financial Times

3 Group Targets Breakeven in 2009

Barring any significant adverse market or regulatory developments, Hutchison Whampoa expects its 3 Group to breakeven at EBIT level in 2009. Last year, 3 Group, hit by regulation, saw its revenue increase 1% to 60.37 billion Hong Kong dollars (7.79 billion US dollars), while its LBIT fell 39% to 10.86 billion Hong Kong dollars, with all operations achieving higher revenues and lower losses, except 3 Italia.

The group’s registered 3G customer base increased 17% during 2008 and currently stands at more than 20.7 million customers, but Hutchison Whampoa defines only 79% of these customers as "active". The customer base includes more than 2.5 million mobile broadband (dongle or laptop) users - a 305% increase from a year ago. source: Hutchison Whampoa statement

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sprint to Extend WiMAX Coverage

Sprint said it plans to deploy its mobile WiMAX service in at least 10 further U.S. cities, including Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas, in 2009. The Kansas-based company expects to launch the service in Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and other markets in 2010.

Sprint said its WiMAX service offers peak downlink speeds of up to 12 Mbps in Baltimore today and average downlink speeds of 2-4 Mbps. source: Sprint statement

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

China Telecom Doubles Spending on Mobile Networks

China Telecom, China's largest fixed-line operator, said its parent company will spend 47 billion Chinese yuan (6.88 billion US dollars) in 2009 rolling out an EV-DO mobile network covering more than 97% of the urban population and 92% of the rural population. Last year, it spent 23.6 billion yuan on mobile networks.

As it moves into the mobile market, China Telecom itself plans to cut capital spending on fixed-line networks by 19% to 39.2 billion yuan. The Beijing-based company forecasts that by 2011 it will have more than 100 million mobile subscribers, (28 million at the end of 2008) and 65 million fixed-line broadband subscribers (44 million at the end of 2008).

By 2011, China Telecom believes data services will account for more than 35% of mobile service revenue compared with 27% at the end of 2008. In 2008, China Telecom's total revenues grew 4%, stripping out exceptional items, to 184.78 billion yuan. source: China Telecom presentation

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vodafone and Telefonica Share Cost Savings

Vodafone and Telefonica expect to save hundreds of millions of pounds over the next 10 years by sharing some network elements in Germany, the UK, Spain, Ireland and potentially the Czech Republic.

The two companies said they will share masts, antennas, sites, cabinets and power supply in the UK and Ireland, while in Germany and Spain they will share masts, cabinets and power supply. The network electronics Nodes B (3G), BTS (2G) and the radio network controllers which are linked to the core network are to remain independent. source: Vodafone/Telefonica statement

Russians Find iPhone Pricey

Russian mobile operators have only sold "a few hundred thousand" 3G iPhones because of the 400 US dollar price tag and the lack of consumer credit, Mikhail Shamolin, CEO of the MTS Group, told the Wall Street Journal. He estimated that users have also smuggled about 500,000 iPhones into Russia that were purchased overseas at cheaper rates.

Mikhail Shamolin also told the Journal that he isn't interested in Google's Android operating system, as he sees the Internet company as a potential competitor. source: Total Telecom/Wall Street Journal

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sony Ericsson Warning

Sony Ericsson said it plans to ship about 14 million handsets in the first quarter of 2009 with an estimated average selling price of 120 euros. In the first quarter of 2008, the company shipped 22.3 million handsets at about 121 euros apiece.

For the first quarter of 2009, Sony Ericsson expects to make a net loss of between 340 million and 390 million euros, excluding restructuring charges of between 10 million and 20 million euros. source: Sony Ericsson statement

Latam Drives Telefonica

Julio Linares, Telefonica's chief operating officer, told the Financial Times his company's Latin Amercian operations should generate double-digit revenue growth this year. Mr Linares said Telef√≥nica’s Brazilian business has not so far been affected by the fourth quarter 2008 downturn in Brazil's economy. source: Financial Times

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Crucial Year for ZTE

In 2008, ZTE's revenues rose 27% to 44.29 billion yuan (6.49 billion US dollars). The Shenzhen-based telecoms equipment maker also reported a 24% increase in net profit to 1.55 billion yuan.

ZTE said 2009 is set to be a year of "extreme importance" as the company pursues opportunities presented by the issuance of 3G licenses in China. However, ZTE also warned that its international business expansion will face challenges amid the "aggravating" financial crisis. source: ZTE statement

BSNL Stalls in India

BSNL, owned by the Indian government, told Dow Jones Newswires that its revenue will be flat at about 381 billion Indian rupees (7.59 billion US dollars) in the year to the end of March, rather than increasing 31% as it had predicted. The company blamed the shortfall on a lack of network equipment preventing it taking on new mobile customers.

BSNL expects at least 5% of its 2G mobile phone users to migrate to 3G in the year to the end of March 2010. source: Total Telecom/Dow Jones Newswires

China Mobile Capex Clampdown

China Mobile said it will cut capital spending by 2% to 133.9 billion yuan (19.6 billion US dollars) in 2009 even though it predicted that China's economic stimulus plan will help the telecoms industry ward off the affects of the financial crisis. About three quarters of its 2009 capex budget will be spent on building out and integrating its new 3G (TD-SCDMA) network with its GSM network. The Beijing-based company plans capital spending of 131 billion yuan and 110.5 billion yuan in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

In 2008, China Mobile's revenue climbed 15.5% to 412.3 billion yuan driven in part by rapidly rising usage of value-added services, such as MMS, WAP, IM and ringtones. The company's non-SMS data revenue rose 36% to 41.29 billion yuan.

Striving to become a greener company, China Mobile also said that 2,135 of its base stations are now powered by alternative energy. source: China Mobile presentation

For more on China Mobile's results, please see my post at the Mobile Innovation Exchange.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Apple Apps Avalanche

Apple said consumers have now downloaded 800 million iPhone applications from its App store, compared with 100 million in early September 2008. The store now offers a selection of 25,000 applications to iPhone users, up from 3,000 in September.

Apple, which sells the iPhone in 80 countries, also said it will increase the number of countries where its App Store is available to 77 from 62. source: Reuters

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Orascom Looking Robust

Orascom Telecom said that all the markets in which it operates, except Pakistan, will continue to "show robust performance" in 2009. Orascom said it will remain cautious about investing further in Pakistan until it sees early signs of recovery.

Orascom Telecom expects its operations to continue to generate substantial cash flow, in particular in Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, the company plans to reduce capital spending in line with the slower market demand for mobile services. Orascom added that its new business in North Korea should become EBITDA positive in the first year of operation.

In 2008, the group recorded at 13% increase in revenues to 5.33 billion US dollars, while capital spending was flat at about 1.58 billion US dollars. source: Orascom Telecom statement

Shadowing Africa

Africa's informal economy and demand for mobile services is holding up despite the downturn in commodity prices, according to Phuthuma Nhleko, CEO of the MTN Group. "Because the shadow economy is so big and it is informal, I think that in some cases the impact of the commodity cycle is exaggerated," he told the Financial Times. "There are some countries where we haven’t seen a decline in spend. I’m not saying we’re not going to see it by June but maybe [it will be] a bit later or maybe it’s not going to be that big, I don’t know." source: Financial Times

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mobile Americans Get Online

In January, more than 22 million Americans used their mobile phones to access news and information from the Web each day, compared with less than 11 million in January 2008, according to market intelligence firm comScore. In the same month, more than 9 million Americans accessed social networking sites or blogs daily via their mobile handsets compared with less than two million a year earlier, the firm added. source: comScore statement.

Expanding in India

India's fifth largest mobile operator, Aircel, plans to invest 1 billion US dollars this year expanding its network with the aim of nearly doubling its existing subscriber base of 17 million. The company, controlled by Maxis of Malaysia, also said it will invest 5 billion US dollars over the next three to five years to expand its operations across India. Source: The Economic Times

MTN Majors on Money

MTN plans to roll out mobile money transfer services across its operations in Africa and the Middle East following a successful launch in Uganda. However, the Johannesburg-based company added that "discussions are currently on-going with relevant authorities in various countries to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met." source: MTN statement

Thursday, March 12, 2009

MTS Cuts Back

MTS said it plans capital expenditure of 1.5 billion US dollars in 2009 compared with 2.23 billion in 2008 as the company sees continued risk from the weakening macroeconomic environment, and volatility within the global financial sector may make it difficult to attract additional financing. About 450 million US dollars is earmarked for 3G and EDGE infrastructure and the company's proprietary transport network

MTS, with operations across the CIS, also said the current economic weakness and currency volatility may negatively impact its short-term financial and operational performance. In 2008, MTS's revenues rose 24.2% to 10.25 billion US dollars due to subscriber growth and rising usage. The company's net cash flow from operations climbed 32% to 4.42 billion US dollars. source: MTS presentation

Bharti Sell-Off

Bharti Airtel's CEO Manoj Kohli sold his entire holding in the telecoms firm in two tranches on March 6th and March 9th. source: Reuters

MTN Cautiously Optimistic

MTN, with operations in Africa and the Middle East, said it is "cautiously optimistic" about its prospects for 2009 in challenging trading conditions. Its strategic priorities include acquisitions in emerging markets, "tightly monitored capital expenditure to ensure appropriate levels of capacity and quality of service for an enlarged market", infrastructure sharing and "engaging positively with the regulatory authorities".

Buoyed by strong subscriber growth in Iran and Nigeria, MTN said its revenue rose 40% in 2008 to 102.5 billion South African rand (10.1 billion US dollars) and its EBITDA climbed 36% to 43.2 billion South African rand. Capital expenditure rose 84% to 28.3 billion rand. source: MTN presentation

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

AT&T Curbs Capex

AT&T plans to invest between 17 billion and 18 billion US dollars in 2009, compared with 19.68 billion in 2008. Approximately two-thirds of AT&T's 2009 investment will extend and enhance the company's wireless and wired broadband networks to provide more coverage, speed and capacity, as data traffic is growing more than 50 percent year on year.

AT&T plans to expand 3G services to 20 new markets in addition to the nearly 350 U.S. metropolitan areas covered today. To enhance coverage and reliability across this footprint, AT&T plans to add 2,100 new cell sites. source: AT&T statement

Growing in Argentina

Telecom Argentina Chief Operating Officer Franco Bertone told a conference call that consolidated revenue for 2009 will grow in the range of 10%. He expects profits to be at a similar level to 2008, when the company posted net income of 961 million Argentine pesos (267 million US dollars). source: Total Telecom/Dow Jones

Qatari Confidence

Qatar Telecom, with 57 million customers and a presence in 17 countries, said it will continue to aim for a strong performance in 2009, "even in the face of new competitive pressures." Following the acquisition of Indosat, Indonesia’s second largest telecoms company, QTel's revenues increased 93 percent to 20.3 billion Qatari riyals (5.58 billion US dollars) in 2008, while net profit rose 36 percent to 2.3 billion Qatari riyals. source: QTel statement.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oi ups Investment

Brazil's largest telecom company Oi reported revenue of 4.82 billion Brazilian reals (2.02 billion US dollars) for the fourth quarter of 2008, up from 4.48 billion in the same quarter of 2007. The company plans to invest between 5 billion and 6 billion Brazilian reals in 2009 compared with 4.6 billion in 2008. source: Total Telecom/Dow Jones

Huawei on a High

Xu Wenwei, Huawei’s chief marketing officer, told the Financial Times that the company is targeting deals worth 30 billion US dollars this year, having secured contracts worth 23 billion in 2008. Mr Xu estimated Huawei generated sales of 17.7 billion US dollars last year, which would represent a 41 per cent increase on 2007. source: Financial Times

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Challenges for Belgacom

Belgacom said that a combination of sharp competition, regulatory pressure and an unfavourable economic climate will make 2009 a challenging year, leading to a revenue decline of about 1% and an EBITDA margin of between 32%-33% compared with 33% in 2008 before non-recurring items. The company also said that capital expenditure will be between 10% and 11% of revenue compared with 11% in 2008

Last year, Belgacom's revenue fell 1.3% to 5.99 billion euros thanks in part to EU regulation cutting roaming revenues by 73 million euros. Belgacom also said it has spent 446 million euros (including 30 million euros in 2008) on 3G networks since launch, providing coverage to 90% of Belgium's population. source: Belgacom statement

Friday, March 6, 2009

Clearwire Vision

Clearwire said it plans to spend between 1.5 billion and 1.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2009 with a goal of offering mobile WiMAX services to 120 million Americans by the end of 2010. However, the company cautioned that the ultimate timing of the network build-out will largely be driven by its market success and the availability of additional capital.

Clearwire said there are 26 notebook models that are mobile WiMAX certified today and it expects there to be nearly 100 mobile WiMAX devices – such as laptops, netbooks, handhelds, USBs and modems – available to customers by the end of the year. source: Clearwire statement

Competition in China

Wang Jianzhou, CEO of China Mobile, told the Financial Times that rising competition could erode China Mobile’s high market share and its EBITDA margin, which was 53% in the first nine months of 2008. “I cannot say we can keep the same EBITDA margin with fierce competition, but we can say we try to keep a good EBITDA margin,” Mr Wang said. However, he promised not to use price [cuts] as a strategy to attract new subscribers. source: Financial Times

Chill Winds in Poland

Polkomtel, the Warsaw-based mobile operator, forecast a 6% to 7% fall in total revenue for 2009 following an 8.8% rise in 2008. The company saw net profit rise 0.2% in 2008, but declined to make a forecast for 2009. Profitability in the fourth quarter of 2008 was suppressed by a regulatory requirement to provide services in rural areas of Poland, Polkomtel added. source: Total Telecom/Dow Jones.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hot Growth for Hutchison

Hutchison Telecom, with operations in Hong Kong, Israel, Macau, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Thailand, expects its businesses to "continue to perform well" in 2009, after posting revenue growth of 16% in 2008. During 2008, Hutchison's Hong Kong and Macau mobile units together achieved a 24% increase in 3G customers to 1.34 million, while non-voice revenues grew 34%.

In 2009, the group is planning capital expenditure, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, of approximately 7 billion Hong Kong dollars (900 million US dollars) primarily in Indonesia and Vietnam. source: Hutchison Telecom statement.

Googling in on Mobile

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt predicted Tuesday that mobile search advertising revenues will surpass PC-based paid search sales within a "few years," as opposed to a few decades. source: Total Telecom/Dow Jones

Swiss Slide

Excluding Italian broadband provider Fastweb, Swisscom expects net revenue for 2009 to fall by up to 300 million Swiss francs (258 million US dollars) to between 9.2 billion and 9.3 billion francs, as a result of competitive pressure and flatter growth in the mobile and broadband markets. Swisscom said its EBITDA, (again excluding Fastweb) will be between 3.8 billion and 3.9 billion francs, compared with about 4.4 billion in 2008, and capital expenditure will be flattish at around 1.35 billion francs.

Swisscom said its financial outlook for 2009 is based on the assumption that the worsened economic climate will only have a limited impact on customer demand for telecoms services. source: Swisscom statement

Flat for France Telecom

In 2009, France Telecom said it is aiming to achieve similar organic cash flow to 2008 (8 billion euros), before the possible acquisition of new spectrum, while maintaining capital expenditure at between 12% and 13% of sales. France Telecom also expects growth in group revenues in 2009 to be greater than the average economic growth across its geographic footprint, which is primarily within Europe and Africa.

At the end of 2008, the group had 26.7 million mobile broadband customers, 70% more than a year earlier.source: France Telecom statement

Strong Tides in The Philippines

Manila-based PLDT said it expects to make a "core profit" of 40 billion Philippine pesos (820 million US dollars) in 2009 compared with 38.1 billion in 2008. The company also said it will raise capital expenditure to 27 billion pesos from 25.2 billion in 2008, of which 16.7 billion related to wireless networks.

PLDT said it is accelerating the roll out of 3G and HSPA networks as the growth in demand hasn't slowed. Subscribers to Smart’s wireless broadband service grew 81% to reach 547,000 (including 124,000 prepaid) at the end of 2008. Wireless broadband revenues also grew 81% to 4.3 billion pesos. source: PLDT statement

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Low-end Life in China

Thanks to better than expected demand from China and other emerging markets, Mediatek, Taiwan's biggest chip design house, said it expects sales in the first quarter of 2009 to be between 8% to 13% higher than the last quarter, a big revision of its previous forecast of a fall of between 8% and 16%. Mediatek designs chips used in low-end mobile phones. source: Financial Times

Vivendi Resilient

Vivendi, the Paris-based media and telecoms group, said SFR's mobile service revenues rose 2.2% to 8.58 billion euros in 2008. Stripping out the impact of mobile voice termination rate cuts of 13% in France, SFR's mobile service revenues would have increased by 4.1%.

SFR's 3G customers reached 5.9 million at the end of December 2008, compared with 4.1 million at the end of December 2007. "Net growth in data revenues" from mobile services rose by 32%, mainly due to SMS and MMS, corporate offerings and the development of mobile Internet for the mass market.

Thanks to the quality of its content and services and ongoing cost controls, Vivendi expects its EBITA to show strong growth in 2009. source: Vivendi statement

Thailand Weakening

Thailand's largest mobile operator, AIS, said Monday it expects revenue growth this year to be below its earlier forecast of 3%-4% because of the weakening economy. AIS also said it plans to spend 14 billion Thai baht (386 million US dollars) to 15 billion Thai baht on capital expenditure on its 2G network in 2009 - slightly less than in 2008.

Once it obtains a 3G license, the company plans to spend a further 20 billion Thai baht in each of the next three years rolling out 3G services. source: Dow Jones/Total Telecom.

Nortel Mum on Outlook

For 2008, Nortel's revenues were 10.42 billion US dollars, down 5% from 2007. After a major "deferred tax asset adjustment" and goodwill write-down, the Toronto-based company also reported a net loss for 2008 of 5.80 billion US dollars compared to a net loss of 957 million for 2007. Blaming limited industry visibility, continued global economic uncertainty and work taking place on a comprehensive restructuring plan under creditor protection filings, Nortel said it won't provide forward-looking guidance.

However, the company did say that lower demand for wireless equipment and "enterprise solutions" meant orders were 2.64 billion US dollars for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with 3.24 billion for the fourth quarter of 2007 and 2.02 billion for the third quarter of 2008. source: Nortel statement.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Zainy Growth

With operations across Middle East and Africa, Zain reported a 26% rise in revenues to 7.44 billion U.S. dollars (despite currency fluctuations) and a 6% increase in net profit to 1.2 billion U.S. dollars for 2008, even after spending 3 billion on network upgrades and expansion in Ghana, Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and other markets.

Zain's CEO said: “Overall, due to our massive network investment across all operations, we expect and are targeting a 30% increase on many of our financial indicators in 2009.” Zain views the economic crisis as an opportunity to make further acquisitions. source: Zain statement

Losses at Motorola

During the fourth quarter of 2008, Motorola shipped 19.2 million handsets and estimates its share of the global handset market was 6.5 percent. The Illinois-based telecoms equipment maker made a net loss of 4.16 billion US dollars in 2008, but ended the year with 7.4 billion in cash.

The company’s outlook for the first quarter of 2009 is a loss of 0.10 to 0.12 dollars per share, excluding charges associated with the company’s "operating expense reduction initiatives, as well as any other items of the variety typically highlighted by the company in its quarterly earnings releases." source: Motorola statement
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