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United Kingdom - Mobile Market – Insights, Statistics and Analysis


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United Kingdom - Mobile Market – Insights, Statistics and Analysis

The UK has one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, both in terms of revenue and in the number of subscribers. It is served by major providers with a significant international presence. Recent merger activity has seen dramatic consolidation in the market and has had knock-on effects for network infrastructure deals struck between them in recent years. The merger of Orange and T-Mobile created EE as the largest operator, while during 2015 H3 absorbed O2 and BT's bid to acquire EE remains under the scrutiny of competition authorities. A growing number of low-cost MVNOs provide effective price and service competition for subscribers. The market has also been characterised by developments in advanced data services delivered over upgraded networks, the bundling of mobile as a quad-play service, and regulatory controls on charges and fees. Mobile penetration is above the EU average, yet subscriber growth remains strong as consumers adopt additional SIMs as well as business-oriented devices and smartphones on various platforms.

Fierce competition has forced operators to concentrate on packaging service bundles and on promotions, and to explore applications such as mobile searching and advertising facilities. ARPU has been falling steadily for all operators, with growing mobile data use offsetting lower voice, interconnection and roaming tariffs. Spectrum auctions anticipated into 2016 will see more bandwidth made available for mobile broadband services, supported by regulatory moves which allow the refarming of 2G spectrum for 3G and 4G use.

This report surveys the UK's mobile market, providing an overview of mobile statistics, regulatory issues and technologies. It also profiles the major operators and MVNOs, and looks ahead to mobile developments in coming years.

Key developments

MTRs set to May 2018; BT Mobile launches cut-price services on EE's network; EE launches WiFi calling service; H3 reports 1% revenue growth in 2014; Hutchison to sell a 33% stake in Hutchison 3G UK Holdings to help pay for O2 acquisition; EE reports 224% growth in LTE subscriber base in the year to March 2015; Ofcom amends MNO licences to guarantee 90% geographic voice coverage by end-2017; Sky to become an MVNO on O2's network; EE develops micro antennae technology to extend mobile services to remote communities; TalkTalk secures access to O2's LTE network; BT's acquisition of EE for £12.5 billion proceeds, now requiring regulatory clearance; Vodafone sells 5.5% stake in Indian division Essar and 44% stake in SFR, sells stake in Verizon Wireless for £84 billion; government commits £150 million to its Mobile Infrastructure Project to improve rural mobile coverage; China Telecom launches MVNO service; H3 signs five-year managed services contract with Huawei; 4G auction in 2.6GHz and 800MHz bands delivers £2.34 billion; regular's market reports and updates; telcos' financial and operating data to Q1 2015; recent market developments.

Companies covered in this report include:

H3UK, Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (EE, incorporating T-Mobile and Orange), Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile


1. Synopsis
2. Overview of the UK's mobile market
2.1 Mobile statistics
2.2 Operator market shares
3. Regulatory issues
3.1 Spectrum regulations and spectrum auctions
3.2 Spectrum refarming
3.2.1 800MHz and 2.6GHz
3.2.2 1800MHz
3.3 Revised licence conditions
3.4 Roaming
3.5 Number portability
3.6 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
4. Major mobile operators
4.1 Hutchison 3
4.2 O2
4.2.1 Sale to H3
4.3 Vodafone
4.3.1 Project Spring
4.3.2 Sales and acquisitions
4.3.3 Company restructure
4.4 EE
4.4.1 Sale to BT
4.4.2 T-Mobile
4.4.3 Orange
4.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
4.5.1 Operators
4.5.2 Mobile Virtual Network Aggregators (MVNAs)
5. Mobile voice services
5.1 Prepaid cards
6. Forecasts
6.1 Forecasts mobile ARPU - 2007 - 2010; 2015; 2020
6.2 Forecasts mobile subscribers and penetration 2010 - 2016
6.3 Notes on scenario forecasts
7. Related reports
Table 1 Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes 2003 - 2014
Table 2 Residential sector mobile revenue 2008 - 2015
Table 3 Mobile retail revenue by service 2002 - 2014
Table 4 Mobile revenue as proportion of total 2002 - 2013
Table 5 Mobile revenue as proportion of total 2008 - 2013
Table 6 Mobile and fixed-line revenue as proportion of combined revenue 2008 - 2014
Table 8 Mobile handset sales 2005 - 2014
Table 9 Historic - Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2004
Table 10 Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate 2005 - 2015
Table 11 Mobile broadband subscribers 2005 - 2015
Table 12 Percentages of mobile and fixed phones in homes 2000 - 2014
Table 13 Mobile ARPU by use (data, SMS, voice) 2005 - 2014
Table 14 Mobile ARPU by contract, prepaid 2006 - 2014
Table 15 Average household spend of fixed-voice, mobile and internet services 2008 - 2015
Table 16 Mobile market share by operator 2004 - 2014
Table 17 European roaming charges 2007 - 2014
Table 18 MTRs by operator (pence per minute) 2015 - 2017
Table 19 3 UK subscribers by sector 2008 - 2014
Table 20 3 UK financial data 2008 - 2014
Table 21 3 UK annualised gross ARPU by sector 2009 - 2014
Table 22 O2 financial data 2007 - 2015
Table 23 O2 ARPU blended, contract, prepaid and data 2006 - 2015
Table 24 O2 proportion of data to total revenue 2006 - 2015
Table 25 O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract 2005 - 2015
Table 26 Vodafone end-year ARPU blended, contract and prepaid 2005 - 2014
Table 27 Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid 2001 - 2015
Table 29 Vodafone customer churn 2007 - 2015
Table 30 Vodafone Group revenue by sector 2007 - 2015
Table 31 Vodafone UK service revenue by sector 2009 - 2015
Table 32 Vodafone mobile customer retention cost 2007 - 2015
Table 33 Vodafone customer smartphone adoption 2010 - 2015
Table 34 EE quarterly revenue 2009 - 2015
Table 35 EE financial data 2011 - 2015
Table 36 EE annual revenue 2013 - 2014
Table 37 EE ARPU 2009 - 2015
Table 38 EE subscriber data 2009 - 2015
Table 39 T-Mobile financial data (historic) 2005 - 2010
Table 40 T-Mobile subscribers (historic) 2005 - 2010
Table 41 Orange subscribers, contract and prepaid (historic) 2006 - 2010
Table 42 Orange subscribers by type, 3G, MVNO (historic) 2007 - 2010
Table 43 Orange revenue (historic) 2005 - 2010
Table 44 Orange customer churn (historic) 2003 - 2009
Table 45 Orange data revenue as proportion of total (historic) 2007 - 2009
Table 46 Orange annualised ARPU by category (historic) 2006 - 2010
Table 47 Orange mobile customer acquisition and retention cost (historic) 2007 - 2009
Table 48 MNO and MVNO share of subscribers 2004 - 2011
Table 49 Virgin Mobile subscribers 2005 - 2014
Table 50 Virgin Mobile revenue 2007 - 2014
Table 51 Prepaid and contract subscribers 2002 - 2014
Table 52 Contract proportion of total subscribers 2002 - 2013
Table 53 Forecast mobile ARPU 2007 - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 54 Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate 2013; 2015; 2020
Chart 1 Call volumes, fixed-line and mobile in minutes 2003 - 2014
Chart 2 Mobile subscribers and SIM penetration rate 2003 - 2015
Chart 3 3 UK subscribers by sector 2008 - 2014
Chart 4 3 UK ARPU by sector 2009 - 2014
Chart 5 O2 financial data 2007 - 2015
Chart 6 O2 annualised ARPU blended, contract, prepaid and data 2006 - 2015
Chart 7 O2 subscribers, prepaid and contract 2005 - 2015
Chart 8 Vodafone ARPU blended, contract and prepaid 2005 - 2014
Chart 9 Vodafone (UK) subscribers and proportion prepaid 2001 - 2015
Chart 11 Vodafone Group revenue by sector 2007 - 2015
Chart 12 Vodafone UK service revenue by sector 2009 - 2015
Chart 13 EE quarterly revenue 2009 - 2014
Chart 14 EE ARPU 2009 - 2014
Chart 15 EE subscriber data 2009 - 2015
Chart 16 Prepaid and contract subscribers 2002 - 2013
Exhibit 1 Spectrum awards 800MHz and 2.6GHz 2013

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