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Wireless Intelligence: Chinese firms rank largest MNO group

Friday 24 September 2010

Based on Q2/2010 figures, China Mobile continues to be ranked as the world's #1 operator, reporting the highest mobile subscriber connections count (556.3 million) and mobile revenue (US$17.7 billion EUR 13.6 billion). However, its two domestic rivals - China Unicom and China Telecom - also improved their respective standings in the list from a year ago. China Unicom (#8) rose one place in the ranking, while China Telecom (#20) entered the top 20 for the first time.

Vodafone remained in the number two position, yet notably Verizon Wireless (#5) - in which the group owns a minority stake - generates nearly as much revenue from a customer base which is just 30% of the size of Vodafone's majority-owned subsidiaries. Meanwhile, America Movil jumped two places in the ranking to overtake Telefonica for third place on the back of strong growth in its Latin American markets. This meant that T-Mobile-owner Deutsche Telekom (#5) dropped two positions year-on-year. Two other European operator groups - France Telecom (#10) and Norway's Telenor (#17) - also fell down the rankings compared to a year ago. In the case of both Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, their figures excluded for the first time their respective UK operations (T-Mobile UK and Orange UK), which were spun-off into a new 50-50 joint venture, Everything Everywhere, in April.

Two other major M&A deals made over the last year had an impact on the rankings. Bharti's acquisition of Zain Africa - which closed during Q2/2010 - saw the Indian market-leader swell its customer base by around 40 million to 177 million in total, becoming the fourth-largest operator group in terms of mobile connections. However, the group has relatively low turnover for its size - partly due to the economics of the low-cost Indian market - which places it at #12 in overall rankings (level with Telecom Italia), up four places from a year ago. Meanwhile, the newly-formed VimpelCom Ltd - a product of the recent merger between Russia's VimpelCom and Kyivstar of the Ukraine - saw the group rise four places year-on-year to rank at #16.

The sale of the majority of its African networks meant that Zain - ranked #18 last year - dropped out of the list in Q2/2010. The other operator group to drop out was France's Vivendi Group, which had been ranked at #19 a year ago. These were replaced in the latest rankings by Brazil's Vivo (#19) and China Telecom (#20).