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Emerging Markets - A New Wave for Mobile Communications - South Africa, Mexico, UAE

There are exciting opportunities for the mobile communications sector, beyond the traditional BRIC markets which have received much attention. BuddeComm’s Senior Analysts have identified further emerging markets worth consideration and in this report highlight the markets of South Africa, Mexico and United Arab Emirates.

South Africa has a vibrant mobile market that has seen rapid uptake since competition was introduced to the sector in the 1990s. Market penetration is well above 100%, driven by separate subscriptions for voice and mobile broadband services, following the launch of third generation (3G) and LTE services. The network operators are increasingly forced to find innovative ways of distinguishing themselves from the competition in order to gain and retain customers, and to streamline their operations.

In Mexico, the regulator has determined that Telmex’s dominance warrants further regulation in certain sectors, and the company has been fined for obstructing interconnection to other operators. A telecom reform law passed in mid-2013 set up a new regulator and is aimed at removing barriers to foreign investment and reducing the market share of the dominant operators. These reforms will go far to making Mexico’s telecom market more competitive.

The UAE has long held the distinction of possessing a well-developed and technologically advanced telecommunications sector with high mobile, telephone and Internet penetration. Competition is slowly improving after the market was liberalised to fulfil World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements. Incumbent Etisalat competes with du and Yahsat. The UAE is a particularly unique market as the very high expatriate population at over 80% presents opportunities that might not be present in markets with a less fluid population.

It can be difficult to obtain useful information on telecommunications in the emerging markets and for this reason this BuddeComm Emerging Markets report offers valuable statistics and information on mobile communications in South Africa, Mexico and United Arab Emirates. Written by BuddeComm’s Regional Senior Analysts, the report includes key mobile statistics and an overview of each market; insights into the regulatory environment and the key mobile technologies in use.

Key developments:

The introduction of GSM by Vodacom and MTN in early 1994 quickly changed the face of telecommunications in South Africa and the country became one of the most important mobile markets outside Europe; Mexico boasts the second largest mobile (cell phone) market in Latin America, after Brazil; The UAE boasts penetration levels that are among the world’s highest. The market is served by a duopoly comprised of incumbent Etisalat and relatively newer market entrant du.


1. Synopsis
2. South Africa
2.1 Overview of South Africa’s mobile market
2.2 Mobile statistics
2.3 Market liberalisation and licence obligations
2.4 Community service telephones (CST)
2.5 Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC)
2.6 Infrastructure sharing
3. South Africa regulatory issues
3.1 Prices
3.2 Interconnection
3.3 Handset subsidies
3.4 International gateways
3.5 Fees and obligations for 1800MHz spectrum
3.6 SIM card registration
3.7 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
3.8 Quality of service (QoS)
4. South Africa mobile technologies
5. Mexico
5.1 Overview of Mexico’s mobile market
5.2 Mobile market statistics
6. Mexico regulatory issues
6.1 Regulatory authorities
6.2 Spectrum auctions
6.2.1 2.5GHz spectrum
6.2.2 700MHz spectrum
6.3 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
6.4 Data roaming
7. Mexico mobile technologies
7.1 Overview
8. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
8.1 Overview of UAE’s mobile market
8.2 Mobile statistics
9. UAE regulatory issues
9.1 Overview
9.2 Mobile number portability
9.3 Roaming tariff reduction
10. UAE mobile technologies
10.1 Analogue and digital
10.2 Third generation mobile
10.3 Long Term Evolution (LTE)
11. Related reports
Table 1 – South Africa - mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2013
Table 2 – South Africa - mobile subscribers by operator – March 2012
Table 3 – Mexico - mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration rate – 2000 - 2013
Table 4 – Mexico - mobile market share by major operator – 2001 - 2012
Table 5 – Mexico - mobile market revenue – 2001 - 2013
Table 6 – UAE - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1995 - 2013
Table 7 – UAE - Mobile operators’ market share – 2007 - 2012
Table 8 – UAE - Total mobile revenue and ARPU – 2007 - 2011
Table 9 – UAE - Prepaid vs postpaid revenue – 2008 – 2011
Table 10 – UAE - Total mobile voice minutes and Monthly MOU – 2008 – 2011
Table 11 – UAE - Total annual mobile voice minutes breakdown – 2008 - 2011
Table 12 – UAE - Mobile services usage by frequency of use – October 2012
Table 13 – UAE - Average monthly spend on mobile services – October 2012
Table 14 – UAE - Multiple SIM card ownership reasons – October 2012
Table 15 – UAE - Reasons for having a postpaid mobile connection – October 2012
Chart 1 – South Africa - mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 - 2013
Chart 2 – Mexico - mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2000 – 2013
Exhibit 1 – Spotlight on Vodacom GSM community payphones

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