Emerging Markets Boost Mobile Operators


Research group Strategy Analytics considered the performance of 12 mobile operators in emerging markets and found subscriber numbers holding or growing

A report from Strategy Analytics shows that in emerging markets, wireless subscriber numbers have continued to grow, despite reductions in minutes used and lowered wireless revenue for mobile operators, resulting from the global recession.

In “A Q1 Look at Emerging Markets: It Could Be Worse,” report author Tom Elliot assessed the first-quarter 2009 performance of 12 emerging market mobile operators and found that most were seeing steady subscriber counts, if not considerable growth.

In Sri Lanka, for example, operator Dialog has experienced a 28 percent quarter-to-quarter increase, Strategy Analytics reports. Additionally, in the first quarter of 2009, Vodafone Egypt saw 7 percent subscriber growth, Zain Uganda saw 11 percent, Reliance, an Indian operator, saw 18 percent growth, and MTS Turkmenistan saw 20 percent.

“A lot of new mobile phone subscribers in emerging markets get their first mobile not because it is cool, but because they hope to get an economic advantage,” wrote Elliot in a statement on the data.

“Farmers seeking crop price information, small merchants contacting wholesalers, casual laborers trying to find out who is hiring—this kind of demand for communication may actually increase in hard time, not decrease,” Elliot continued.

The company additionally reports that while acknowledging severe challenges around the globe, it remains “cautiously optimistic” about mobile service performance in emerging markets.

Vodafone, it says, announced a 15.6 percent year-on-year increase in revenue for the year ending March 31, which was largely due to strong performance by operations in Africa, Central Europe, the Middle East and Asia

Also noting the potential for growth, Nokia and other manufacturers this year introduced phones specifically for customers in emerging markets, with features such as an FM radio with a speaker for group listening, and a phone book able to hold 1,000 contacts, since in some cultures it is common for multiple users to share a phone.

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