BOSTON--(A Q1 Look at Emerging Markets: It Could Be Worse,” Strategy Analytics Emerging Markets Communications Strategies (EMCS) service assessed the first quarter 2009 performance of 12 emerging market mobile operators and found that in virtually all cases subscriber counts are at least holding steady, and sometimes have grown dramatically, as with Dialog’s 28% quarter-to-quarter increase in Sri Lanka.)--New mobile phone research from Strategy Analytics shows that while the global recession is affecting wireless revenue and minutes of use (MOU) in emerging markets, subscriber bases continue to grow. In “
“Operators still have a number of difficult quarters to get through”
Other mobile emerging market operators had substantial increases in subscriber base from year-end 2008, including Vodafone Egypt (+7%), Zain Uganda (+11%), Reliance (+18%), and MTS Turkmenistan (+20%).
“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,” notes Tom Elliott, Director of EMCS. “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 times, not decrease.”
Despite subscriber growth, the mobile communications business is still suffering. The new users typically have lower ARPU and MOU, and existing customers are likely to be cutting back on spending for services and new handsets. Revenue has declined for many emerging market operators. “Operators still have a number of difficult quarters to get through,” cautions Phil Kendall, Director of Wireless Network Strategies (WNS). “For the long run, however, continued subscriber growth is a very good sign.”
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