European telcos must work harder to offset voice revenue declines

Jan 17, 2013

According to a report issued this week from research firm Ovum, the European wholesale market was worth $48.4bn in 2011, only 0.5 per cent less than in 2010, despite the economic downturn, continuing competition and regulatory actions. This figure represents about 11 per cent of the total European revenues of the 25 leading wholesalers.

The top four wholesalers in Europe in 2011 were BT, Deutsche Telekom, FT-Orange and Telefonica, who together accounted for over 50 per cent of total European wholesale revenue. Yet almost all of the leading wholesalers in Europe also experienced falling revenues from fixed voice. According to David James, principal wholesale telecoms analyst at Ovum, while some are mitigating the effect of this decline by broadening the attractiveness of their non-voice services, all of them need to do more:

“Wholesalers must lessen their dependence on traditional wholesale fixed voice sales by meeting customers’ needs for non-voice services. Many carriers have already expanded their non-voice portfolios by offering emerging new services such as carrier Ethernet, content distribution, and hosting. However, they must do more to attract and retain customers for their wholesale mobile and non-voice services.”

He adds that mobile wholesale is a growing sector in Europe and offers significant potential for growth, but that it requires a more complete and flexible wholesale portfolio than mere capacity alone. The fixed non-voice sector also offers greater opportunities for innovation and differentiation.

Ovum discovered that some telcos, including Telecom Italia and SFR, did increase their revenues from other sectors to more than compensate for declines in fixed voice. But others didn’t – BT for example, the largest wholesaler in Europe by revenue, which saw its wholesale revenues decline as a direct result of falling fixed voice sales. James added that:

“The decline in revenues from wholesale voice services shows no sign of relenting. Wholesalers must take action to understand and satisfy their customers’ developing requirements for non-voice services. This is particularly true for the few that dominate Europe’s wholesale market.”

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