China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator by connections and revenue and operating in just two markets, has nearly twice as many customers as number-two ranked Vodafone Group, which owns and operates networks in 26 countries.
China Mobile had 886 million connections at the end of 2015 compared with Vodafone’s 461 million, according to GSMA Intelligence’s 2015 operator rankings. The China giant, with networks in China and Pakistan, had revenue of £69.4 billion last year, while Vodafone’s turnover was £40.2 billion.
By number of connections, Asian-based operators took three of the top five places globally and four of the top ten – not including Norway’s Telenor Group (tenth), with operations in six Asia countries that account for about half of its revenue.
Joining China Mobile in the top five were Bharti Airtel (third with 336 million) and China Unicom (fourth with 307 million). Airtel also has operations in Africa and South Asia. China Telecom, with 212 million connections, was eighth.
Indian players fared particularly well over the past 12 months, with Airtel, Idea Cellular (12th with 172 million) and Reliance Communications (20th with 101 million) moving up a few places in the rankings.
Indonesia’s largest operator, Telkomsel, was 15th with 155 million connections. Qatar’s Ooredoo, whose units in Indonesia (Indosat) and Myanmar have nearly 77 million users, was 18th with 116 million connections.
Japan’s NTT Docomo ranked 29th by connections (nearly 70 million) but was eighth by revenue. Maxis, which has operations in Malaysia and India, was 23rd with 99 million connections. Axiata Group, with networks in eight Asian countries, had more than 92 million connections and was ranked 26th.