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Cellcos struggle to get subs above one M

Although the number of MMSes sent per subscriber per month remains below a single message in many countries, total MMS traffic came close to doubling between 2Q05 and 2Q06 among the 63 mobile network operators tracked by Telecoms.com’s parent, Informa Telecoms & Media (see figs. 1&3). On average, total MMS traffic increased 80.5 per cent, while growth in messages per subscriber was 54.4 per cent.

Fig. 1: MMS traffic, selected operators, 2Q06
Operator Total MMS traffic (mil.)
2Q06 YOY change (%)
China Mobile 489.3 866.4
Sprint Nextel (U.S.) 360.0 140.0
Verizon Wireless (U.S.) 220.0 254.8
Cingular Wireless (U.S.) 131.0 235.9
T-Mobile USA 87.0 129.0
Radiomovil Dipsa (Mexico) 75.9 1.2
SFR (France) 40.0 90.5
Telecom Italia Mobile 33.0 20.0
O2 (UK) 28.0 45.8
Otecel (Ecuador) 19.8 n/a
Source: Informa Telecoms & Media
Fig. 3: MMS traffic, selected operators, 2Q05 & 2Q06
MMS traffic (mil.) MMS/sub/mo.
Country Operator Median subs, 2Q05 2Q06 YOY change 2Q05 2Q06 YOY change
2Q06 (%) (%)
Africa
Kenya Safaricom 4,153,930 0.01 0.08 515.38 0.00 0.01 292.69
Mauritius Emtel 233,145 0.08 0.11 37.50 0.16 0.16 0.89
Morocco Itissalat Al-Maghrib 8,750,000 5.53 5.35 -3.09 0.26 0.20 -21.42
Namibia MTC 486,105 n/a 0.01 n/a n/a 0.01 n/a
South Africa Vodacom 17,973,405 3.50 6.50 85.71 0.09 0.12 27.95
Asia Pacific
China China Mobile 267,215,500 50.63 489.30 866.42 0.08 0.61 691.42
Singapore MobileOne 1,322,460 1.65 1.90 15.15 0.45 0.48 5.84
Singapore StarHub 1,410,500 3.60 3.70 2.78 0.95 0.87 -8.23
Eastern Europe
Croatia Vipnet 1,697,345 2.10 4.40 109.52 0.53 0.86 63.54
Czech Republic Telefonica O2 4,815,050 0.03 0.10 233.33 0.00 0.01 212.11
Estonia Elisa 278,765 0.06 0.06 7.95 0.08 0.08 -7.04
Estonia EMT 680,450 n/a 0.17 n/a n/a 0.08 n/a
Estonia Tele2 496,035 n/a 0.13 n/a n/a 0.08 n/a
Hungary Pannon 2,943,625 1.60 2.03 26.88 0.19 0.23 21.03
Hungary T-Mobile 3,965,135 2.10 3.22 53.33 0.19 0.27 46.30
Hungary Vodafone 1,870,365 0.76 1.70 123.68 0.16 0.30 92.72
Lithuania Bite 1,277,380 0.65 0.70 7.69 0.25 0.18 -28.13
Lithuania Omnitel 1,636,460 0.58 0.90 55.17 0.14 0.18 29.56
Lithuania Tele2 1,497,945 0.05 0.20 300.00 0.01 0.04 206.37
Romania Orange 7,159,500 2.98 4.10 37.58 0.18 0.19 5.83
Romania Vodafone 6,559,550 3.33 4.48 34.53 0.22 0.23 5.35
Russia VimpelCom 43,990,430 2.50 3.90 56.00 0.03 0.03 7.80
Slovenia Mobitel 1,369,750 1.40 4.91 250.71 0.32 1.19 269.59
Latin America
Argentina Telefonica Moviles 9,035,150 2.25 4.50 100.00 0.12 0.17 38.03
Bolivia Movil de Entel 1,394,500 0.01 0.02 100.00 0.00 0.00 86.02
Ecuador Otecel 2,539,700 n/a 19.80 n/a n/a 2.60 n/a
Mexico Radiomovil Dipsa 38,368,500 75.00 75.90 1.20 0.79 0.66 -17.02
Uruguay Ancel 699,245 n/a 1.00 n/a n/a 0.48 n/a
Venezuela Digitel GSM 2,031,500 n/a 2.20 n/a n/a 0.36 n/a
Middle East
Jordan JMTS 2,157,000 1.72 2.60 51.19 0.43 0.40 -5.76
Palestine Palestine Cellular Comms 684,260 n/a 0.03 n/a n/a 0.01 n/a
Yemen Yemen Mobile Phone 1,033,500 n/a 2.35 n/a n/a 0.76 n/a
North America
U.S. Cingular Wireless 56,559,000 39.00 131.00 235.90 0.25 0.77 202.78
U.S. Sprint Nextel 48,996,500 150.00 360.00 140.00 2.19 2.45 11.79
U.S. T-Mobile 23,031,500 38.00 87.00 128.95 0.68 1.26 86.46
U.S. Verizon Wireless 53,927,500 62.00 220.00 254.84 0.45 1.36 205.39
Western Europe
Austria Connect 1,880,000 1.20 1.70 41.67 0.24 0.30 23.32
Austria Mobilkom 3,454,750 1.80 3.52 95.56 0.18 0.34 86.61
Belgium Mobistar 2,987,985 4.10 4.25 3.66 0.48 0.47 -0.84
Denmark 3 139,650 0.35 0.50 42.86 0.89 1.19 33.39
Denmark Sonofon 1,538,500 1.10 2.00 81.82 0.26 0.43 67.70
Denmark TDC Mobil 2,595,500 1.75 2.75 57.14 0.24 0.35 47.88
Denmark Telia 1,137,000 2.80 2.00 -28.57 0.84 0.59 -30.30
Finland Elisa 2,022,150 1.05 1.88 79.41 0.24 0.31 28.81
Finland DNA/Finnish 2G 845,000 1.18 0.87 -26.05 0.55 0.34 -37.43
Finland TeliaSonera 2,555,500 1.80 2.07 15.00 0.20 0.27 33.59
France SFR 17,371,500 21.00 40.00 90.48 0.44 0.77 72.52
Germany O2 10,217,000 5.37 6.86 27.77 0.22 0.22 2.32
Greece Cosmote 4,853,145 7.20 13.20 83.33 0.56 0.91 62.68
Ireland O2 1,585,500 2.10 2.10 0.00 0.45 0.44 -1.39
Italy Telecom Italia 30,036,000 27.50 33.00 20.00 0.35 0.37 4.40
Italy Wind 14,157,500 1.50 3.50 133.33 0.04 0.08 106.02
Norway NetCom 1,619,500 8.00 10.40 30.00 1.73 2.14 23.78
Norway Telenor Mobil 3,277,500 11.50 15.00 30.43 1.19 1.53 28.41
Portugal Optimus 1,906,300 1.50 2.90 93.33 0.29 0.51 74.74
Spain Telefonica Moviles 20,466,000 11.70 18.70 59.83 0.20 0.30 50.17
Sweden Telenor 1,668,000 2.36 3.00 27.23 0.55 0.60 9.00
Sweden TeliaSonera 4,439,500 3.98 5.05 27.01 0.30 0.38 26.24
Switzerland Orange 1,277,000 5.60 6.00 7.14 1.64 1.57 -4.44
UK O2 17,711,500 19.20 28.00 45.83 0.42 0.53 24.74
UK Orange 14,955,500 6.00 10.50 75.00 0.14 0.23 68.46
UK T-Mobile 16,545,670 4.00 8.00 100.00 0.09 0.16 77.37
UK Vodafone 14,141,870 13.70 18.00 31.39 0.33 0.42 27.25
Source: Informa Telecoms&Media

The exceedingly high increase in total MMS traffic for the fastest-growing cellcos, China Mobile and Kenya’s Safaricom – more than 800 per cent and 500 per cent, respectively – is tempered by the fact that their per-subscriber MMS rates are very low. However, China Mobile is also the best-performing cellco in terms of total MMS traffic: Its subscribers sent 486 million MMSes in 2Q06, but this averages out at just 0.75 of an MMS per subscriber per month.

U.S. cellco Sprint Nextel’s subscribers sent the most messages per month, at about five MMSes, for total MMS traffic of 360 million for the quarter. The U.S. market as a whole performed strongly, with all four cellcos tracked recording triple-digit growth in both total MMS traffic and MMSes per subscriber per month.

The U.S.’ MMS bonanza is likely the result of its bundled pricing packages for messaging (see country profile, pp. 20-21). Although MMS market penetration in the U.S. is much lower than in western Europe, according to U.S.-headquartered market-research firm M-Metrics (see fig. 2), the projected number of MMS users is more than double.

Fig. 2: MMS penetration
Country Projected subs* % of total subs**
France 8,346,601 19.4
Germany 8,810,128 19.6
Italy 12,633,000 30.1
Spain 8,399,912 27.5
UK 12,604,635 29.0
U.S. 25,828,891 13.3
Notes: Monthly average for the three months ending Oct-06. *Projections based on sample results. ** The percentage of all mobile users likely to use the service based on sample results and M-Metrics calculations. Bases: 12,438 (France), 14,820 (Germany),12,008 (Italy), 12,176 (Spain), 15,063 (UK), 35,388 (U.S.). Source: M-Metrics

Ecuadorean cellco Otecel is perhaps the surprise of the bunch, with its subscribers sending 4.4 MMSes per month on average in 2Q06, which ranks the MNO second behind Sprint Nextel on this metric. Its total MMS traffic is not too shabby, either: At 19.8 million MMSes for the quarter, Otecel is in 10th place overall and ahead of cellcos Telefonica and Vodafone UK, for example.

Not surprisingly, the mobile network operators in the developing markets of eastern Europe are also continuing to see their MMS traffic double, and in the case of Lithuania’s Tele2, quadruple. Some cellcos in the more mature western European markets, France’s SFR, Italy’s Wind and T-Mobile UK, are also experiencing this level of growth in total MMS traffic. But it is Norwegian cellcos NetCom and Telenor Mobil, 3 Denmark, Cosmote (Greece) and Switzerland’s Orange that can claim subscribers who send more than one MMS each a month. NetCom subscribers are the most prolific MMS users in Europe, sending more than two messages a month.

There has been some contraction in western Europe markets, with Denmark’s Telia and Finland’s DNA experiencing declines in their total MMS traffic of 28.6 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively. And although Orange Switzerland may have a higher MMS-per-subscriber-per-month rate than many other cellcos, it also has a much lower growth rate, as have Ireland’s O2 and Belgium’s Mobistar.

Meanwhile, M-Metrics reports that the number of people who sent an MMS almost every day remained relatively static in the three months to end-October in France, Germany and the UK but increased by two percentage points in the U.S (see data, pp. 18-19). Indeed, the two new markets M-Metrics tracks, Italy and Spain, have the highest percentage of mobile subscribers who use MMS almost every day: 4.6 per cent for Italy, or a projected 1.9 million subscribers (2.5 per cent of 76.4 million subs), and 3.1 per cent for Spain, or a projected 950,000 subscribers (2.1 per cent of 46 million subs).

To comment on this and other articles, please contact us at chatback@telecoms.com

This story first appeared in Telecoms.com’s sister publication, Mobile Messaging Analyst, January edition.


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