Growth for European mobile operators continued in 2010, 9.5 million new subscribers in 8 European countries

Published: Thu 26 May 2011

Growth for European mobile operators continued in 2010, despite some decline in ARPU and increase in churn. Overall Mobile Network Operator subscriber penetration reaches a record 125 per cent by the end of 2010 – a new report by TCL finds.

Key highlights from new study covering 28 EU MNOs:

  • 11 out of 28 surveyed European operators increase ARPU by an average of 3.28 per cent
  • Churn levels marginally increased to 26.3 per cent
  • 9.5 million new subscriber in 8 European countries


London – 25th May 2011 - The latest edition of Tariff Consultancy Ltd’s (TCL’s) Mobile Pricing Trends 2010 subscription service highlights that most of the key MNOs continue to see significant subscriber growth even as markets reach maturity.

By the end of 2010, the Mobile Network Operator (MNO) penetration rate across eight key European countries had reached 125 per cent of the population - with more than 1 SIM card per person. And out of the 28 MNOs surveyed only 4 had seen a year-on-year decline in subscriber numbers.

The Mobile Pricing Trends 2010 service is published twice a year and provides a unique insight into the performance of 28 MNOs across the eight  European countries of France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. TCL analyses the performance of each MNO in those countries based on Subscriber Numbers, blended monthly ARPU and blended annualised Churn rates from the end of 2009 compared against the end of 2010. For each country TCL also highlights the main new pricing and product initiatives being introduced in each market.

From the latest Mobile Pricing Trends report, TCL highlights the following changes:

  • MNO penetration rates across the 8 countries have increased by 3 percentage points year on year – from 122 per cent at the end of 2009 to 125 per cent at the end of 2010
  • Individual MNOs have reported a full in subscriber numbers, mainly due to managing out sections of their Pre Pay user base – with Telekom (Germany) losing 4.4 million subscribers
  • MNO penetration rates are highest in Sweden, with a 159 per cent rate as of the end of 2010, with France having the lowest rate of 92 per cent at the same date
  • Selected MNOs – particularly in Germany – saw an increase of over 1 million net subscribers (Vodafone and E-Plus in Germany) and Wind in Italy increased their market shares during 2010
  • Pre Pay users continued to decline over the period as a proportion of total subscribers. The proportion of Pay Monthly customers increased by 3 percentage points overall to almost 50 per cent - from 47 per cent - for the year to the end of 2010 – an increase of around 17 million users.
  • Pay Monthly contracts are most popular in France, where they account for 74 per cent of MNO subscribers (at the end of 2010). By contrast Pay Monthly contracts are the least popular in Italy, where 24 per cent of mobile subscribers had a contract at the end of 2010.
  • Average blended annualised ARPU for the MNO declined by 2 per cent (for the year to the end of 2010) to 26.5 Euro per month. Germany and the UK had the lowest ARPU rates and France and Swiss MNOs had the highest at the end of 2010. 11 out of the 28 surveyed MNOs increased the ARPU by an average of 3.28 per cent.
  • Annualised average MNO rates also increased over the year but by less than 2 per cent. And some MNOs reduced churn by significant amounts during the period, with Vodafone UK reducing churn by 4.2 percentage points year on year.
  • Key pricing trends across all of the countries include the focus on smartphones & tablet PC’s with the introduction of mobile internet tariffs, Mobile Broadband tariffs (for USB modem use) based on fixed line Broadband tariff structure – as introduced by KPN - and the re-emergence of “all you can eat” data allowances – as introduced by H3G UK for Pay Monthly users in December 2010 as part of its One Plan.

“Although levels of competition for the MNO continue to be severe,” commented Margrit Sessions, Managing Director of Tariff Consultancy Ltd, “ MNOs are proving that the mobile sector in Europe is still a growth market with healthy overall subscriber growth for those operators that can differentiate their offers, and take advantage of the boom in smartphones and Pay Monthly contracts.”

“Although individual operators are experiencing contrasting fortunes, particularly in churn rates, where there have been examples of large year on year increases, the most important requirement is for MNOs to actively manage their churn and seek to differentiate their offers based on customer value rather than the cheapest price or chase subscriber numbers,” she added.


Notes to the editor 

About the MNO Trends 2010 subscription service: The MNO Trends 2010 subscription service is published twice yearly by TCL. It provides a year on year comparison of actual subscriber numbers, blended monthly ARPU and blended annualised churn for the main MNOs in 8 key European countries (including the MNOs in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK).

The MNO Trends subscription service costs £1,995 GBP’s per annum for a single user licence or altnernatively the latest issue can be purchased for £995.00.  


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