Telecommunications Network Operators, Q1 2019 Market Review -

DUBLIN--()--The "Telecommunications Network Operators: 1Q19 Market Review" report has been added to's offering.

This market review provides a comprehensive assessment of the global telecommunications industry based on financial results through March 2019 (1Q19). The report tracks revenue, CAPEX and employee for 130 individual telecommunications network operators (TNOs). For a sub-group of 40 large TNOs, the report also assesses labour cost, opex and operating profit trends. Our coverage timeframe spans 1Q11-1Q19 (33 quarters). The report's format is Excel.

The global telecom industry continues to be constrained at the top line. Revenues declined YoY by 3% in 1Q19, to $456B ($1,823B annualized). Total CAPEX was $70B in 1Q19, declining at about the same rate as revenues. Labour costs were a bit higher at $72B in 1Q19.

Telcos are beginning to deploy 5G and invest in the media business, but most are doing so cautiously. Telco profit margins remain tight, nothing new for the telecom industry. Operators are getting more concerned about debt, though. The net debt (debt minus cash) of the global telco sector was roughly half of revenues in 2018, after having been in the 30-40% range of revenues at the cusp of the LTE buildout cycle. Few telcos have room in their budgets for a 5G CAPEX splurge.

Key findings include:

  • The long-term revenue growth rate of the telecom sector is in the 0-2% range. In 1Q19, growth was 1% on a fixed (constant) exchange rate basis. Actual revenue growth in 1Q19 was lower, down 2.7% YoY to $456.5B.
  • Even the modest growth currently achieved by the telecom sector requires high levels of capital investment in networks. The industry's long-term CAPEX to revenue ratio (capital intensity) is in the 16-17% range, on average (16.4% in 1Q19). Telcos also use M&A to expand into adjacent markets; AT&T-Time Warner is just one example. The debt from such deals can drive up the operator's interest payments and make it harder to fund CAPEX, however.
  • On a revenue per employee basis, the telco sector has been stagnant since 2011: the annualized figure was $360K that year, and averaging $355K for the last four quarters. Labour costs per employee, on an annualized basis, declined YoY by 1.1% in 1Q19 to $55.5K.
  • Telcos employed 5.2 million people in 1Q19, in line with 1Q18. We expect employee totals to begin declining in the next 1-2 years. India alone may cut up to 100K employees in that timeframe, due to Jio's consolidation & BSNL reforms.
  • Capex for 1Q19 alone was 15.4% of revenues, the same as in 1Q18. First-quarter capital intensity is usually low, while 4Q is the highest. The biggest CAPEX quarter in the last decade was 21.4% of revenues in 1Q15 when 4G buildouts were still important.
  • Telco network investments continued a declining trend, as CAPEX touched $70B in 1Q19, down almost 2.5% YoY. The weak 1Q19 result and continued supply-side uncertainty do not bode well for 2019. The slowdown could be due to operator caution about the market demand. Yet competitive realities will require operators to spend big on 5G and fibre in 2019-20. The market's average capital intensity will exceed 17% by the end of this year.
  • The M&A climate remains strong for the sector in 2019. Noteworthy recent deals include the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, Comcast's acquisition of Sky, the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular; and Vodafone's $18B acquisition of Liberty Global's Germany and Eastern Europe cable and broadband assets. All eyes are set on the much talked about the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, which will result in the combined entity to become the second-largest mobile operator in the US.
  • Telco industry operating margins have been hovering at around 11% over the last 11 quarters, on an annualized basis. Many operators point to high labour costs as impacting margins, and plan layoffs and/or restructuring to cope. On a per-employee basis, the global average for labour costs (on an annualized basis) in 1Q19 was $56k, down 1.1% compared to the year earlier. As 5G approaches, TNOs will continue to keep up the pressure on their staff spending. They will also continue to look for ways to reduce the labour cost component of customer acquisition & retention costs (CAC and CRC), through both technology investments & business partnerships.

Key Topics Covered:

1. Abstract

2. Analysis

3. Single-company drill-downs

4. Key stats through 1Q19

5. Operator rankings

6. Rev, CAPEX and headcount

7. Deep dive cost analysis

8. Subs & traffic

9. Exchange rates

Companies Mentioned

  • A1 Telekom Austria
  • Advanced Info Service (AIS)
  • Altice Europe
  • Altice USA
  • America Movil
  • AT&T
  • Axiata
  • Axtel
  • Batelco
  • BCE
  • Bezeq Israel
  • Bharti Airtel Limited
  • Bouygues Telecom
  • BSNL
  • BT
  • Cable ONE, Inc.
  • Cablevision
  • Cellcom Israel
  • CenturyLink
  • Cequel Communications
  • Charter Communications
  • China Mobile
  • China Telecom
  • China Unicom
  • Chunghwa Telecom
  • Cincinatti Bell
  • CK Hutchison
  • Clearwire
  • Cogeco
  • Com Hem Holding AB
  • Comcast
  • Consolidated Communications
  • Cyfrowy Polsat
  • DEN Networks Limited
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • DirecTV
  • Dish Network
  • Dish TV India Limited
  • DNA Ltd.
  • Du
  • EE
  • Elisa
  • Entel
  • Etisalat
  • Fairpoint Communications
  • Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., Ltd.
  • Frontier Communications
  • Globe Telecom
  • Grupo Clarin
  • Grupo Televisa
  • Hathway Cable & Datacom Limited
  • Idea Cellular Limited
  • Iliad SA
  • KDDI
  • KPN
  • KT Corporation
  • Leap Wireless
  • LG Uplus
  • Liberty Global
  • M1
  • Manitoba Telecom Services
  • Maroc Telecom
  • Maxis Berhad
  • Megafon
  • MetroPCS Communications
  • Millicom
  • Mobile Telesystems
  • MTN Group
  • MTNL
  • NTT
  • Oi
  • Omantel
  • Ooredoo
  • Orange
  • PCCW
  • PLDT
  • Quebecor Telecommunications
  • Reliance Communications Limited
  • Reliance Jio
  • Rogers
  • Rostelecom
  • Safaricom Limited
  • Sasktel
  • Shaw Communications
  • Singtel
  • SITI Networks Limited
  • SK Telecom
  • Sky plc
  • SmarTone
  • SoftBank
  • Spark New Zealand Limited
  • Sprint
  • StarHub
  • STC (Saudi Telecom)
  • SureWest Communications
  • Swisscom
  • Taiwan Mobile
  • Tata Communications Limited
  • Tata Teleservices
  • TDC
  • TDS
  • Tele2 AB
  • Telecom Argentina
  • Telecom Egypt
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Telekom Malaysia Berhad
  • Telenor
  • Telia
  • Telkom Indonesia
  • Telkom SA
  • Telstra
  • Telus
  • Thaicom
  • Time Warner Cable
  • TPG Telecom Limited
  • True Corp
  • Turk Telekom
  • Turkcell
  • Veon
  • Verizon
  • Virgin Media
  • Vivendi
  • Vodafone
  • Vodafone Idea Limited
  • Wind Tre
  • Windstream
  • Zain
  • Zain KSA

For more information about this report visit

Laura Wood, Senior Press Manager
For E.S.T Office Hours Call 1-917-300-0470
For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call 1-800-526-8630
For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900

Laura Wood, Senior Press Manager
For E.S.T Office Hours Call 1-917-300-0470
For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call 1-800-526-8630
For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900