At the launch of the 2012 annual report from Comision del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (CMT), Spain’s telecoms regulator, CMT president Bernardo Lorenzo warned that both the mobile and fixed sectors are in for a difficult 2013, although mobile broadband is proving resilient in the tough economic climate.
“Mobile broadband continues to be the only service with growing revenues,” said Lorenzo at the CMT annual report presentation, quoted by Reuters.
Despite an unemployment rate nudging 30 per cent, and total revenue for the telecoms sector falling 7.2 per cent during 2012 (to €35.2 billion), mobile broadband – driven by the adoption of smartphones, tablets and datacards – notched up an impressive 29 per cent rise in revenue, to €2.8 billion (but still not high enough to offset overall losses).
More worryingly for Spain’s mobile operators, the number of subscribers went down for the first time during 2012 – by 3.7 per cent – which helped to squeeze sales by 16 per cent, to €9.5 billion. Customers, too, are looking for cheaper deals.
Lorenzo warned that internet-based instant messaging services, such as WhatsApp, which are free after a small initial payment, will challenge operators even more this year as customers look to avoid more expensive text messages.
A further trend is Telefonica’s Movistar and Vodafone, the market leaders, losing market share to Orange and TeliaSonera’s Yoigo, as well as virtual operators.
According to recent figures by CMT, Movistar registered a net loss of 248,000 customers during March (and a staggering loss of 700,000 for the first three months of 2013).
By contrast, Spain’s MVNOs, with cheaper offers, logged a net customer gain of 210,000 during March.