May 2010

Published: Fri 4 June 2010

A new subscription service from Tariff Consultancy Ltd (TCL) shows a steady growth in mobile customers during 2009, steady churn but falling ARPU levels. MNOs are boosting data services and their smart phone presence in order to attract new high value subscribers.

A new bi-annual subscription service from TCL called ‘MNO Trends in Europe 2010' shows that the main European markets are still seeing overall growth in mobile subscribers during 2009 in spite of the economic downturn.

The first ever service in the market  tracking key metrics of Subscriber figures, ARPU and Churn in addition to an analysis on the key new product and pricing initiatives launched by the 30 MNOs operating in 8 European countries.

As of the end of 2009, MNOs in the 8 European countries had over 417 million registered mobile subscribers, which is equivalent to 123% of the population (the figures exclude the MVNO sector).

With some exceptions, the MNOs saw an increase in subscriber numbers during 2009, an increase of over 4 million in total. Pay Monthly subscriptions continued to increase in 2009 by 7 million subscribers with Pre Pay subscribers falling by 2.9 million across the 8 countries.

The research reveals that around 60 per cent of mobile subscribers in the 8 countries have a Pay Monthly account with the highest proportion of 71% in France and the lowest percentage of Pay Monthly users being in Italy with 21%. The UK has seen the largest increase in Pay Monthly services of 2.5 million over the year.

Blended average ARPU levels across all of the countries in the survey have declined by 2.8%.  Blended ARPU rates tend to follow uniform trends in each country. For example, German MNOs have among the lowest ARPU rates and French MNOs have among the highest.  However blended churn rates vary considerably from MNO to MNO in each country.

In the MNO Trends in 2010 subscription service, TCL also highlight the key pricing initiatives launched by country. A number of key trends are taking place throughout all 8 European countries including the launch of new smart phones and HSDPA networks capable of providing theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps or 21Mbps. MNOs are also providing more bundled services and flat rate programmes.

In October 2009 for example Orange Spain introduced "Module International" , which for a flat fee of 1 Euro offers a 50% discount off the standard rate of making calls to Europe, Latin America, and the USA (to both fixed lines and mobiles).

Observed TCL Managing Director Margrit Sessions,

"During 2009 the number of mobile subscribers in our 8 country survey continued to grow despite the economic downturn which is evidence of the resilience of the mobile operator even in a mature market.

Although Pay Monthly subscriptions continue to increase, blended average ARPU declined in all countries with the most savage decline seen in the UK. Operators need to continue to boost the proportion of their Pay Monthly subscriber base and add more pre-loaded services to the smart phone to boost usage.

Pricing initiatives in Europe are geared at promotions (or price cuts) for short term periods, such as the Christmas period," continues Margrit Sessions. "As a result ARPU overall is being reduced only gradually, although MNO's with exposure to Pre Pay customers are exposed to greater churn and reductions in monthly ARPU levels."  


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About TCL: Tariff Consultancy Ltd (TCL) is an international telecoms and research company based in London. TCL provides expert analysis, consultancy and research into mobile and fixed network services on a global basis. TCL publishes a range of reports and subscription services and customers include regulators, operators and hardware providers.


About MNO Trends in Europe 2010: Published once every six months (in May and September), the MNO Trends in Europe 2010 provides updated Subscriber figures, Blended ARPU, Blended Churn and key pricing initiatives for 30 MNO's in 8 major European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK) for the end of June and the end of December. The service is available for a single user licence launch price of £1,995 GBP's per annum (available until the end of June 2010). For orders received after June 2010 the price increases to £2,495 GBP's per annum. For more information, email us on or call on +44 208 993 6861.

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