During the early days of 5G, the mobile industry was sometimes caught saying that mobile – with the help of 5G – would kill Wi-Fi. That hasn’t happened, obviously. Usage of public Wi-Fi hotspots would likely decline if more users had mobile data plans that are unlimited in volume. T-Mobile suggested it in this blog post from December 2021.
But even if so, few users would stop using their Wi-Fi at home. Home is where Wi-Fi connects automatically and where a majority of usage takes place.
Ironically, the greatest use case for 5G so far is to substitute fixed broadband. 5G has encouraged many MNOs globally to, for the first time, seriously push fixed wireless access, or FWA, services using their mobile networks. Why is it ironic? The mobile industry has for more than a decade specified and built 5G, the most advanced and best mobile technology so far, but its primary use case to date is fixed. Sitting still.
While FWA could substitute a fixed broadband connection, especially DSL and cable, it does not substitute Wi-Fi, though. The FWA router converts 5G into Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi, not 5G, remains the interface to the connected devices in the home.
So while we, already, are tired of our own headline and the whole notion of “Wi-Fi vs. 5G”, we need to check the facts. After all, we are Tefficient and believers in data.
Tefficient’s 40th public analysis of mobile data development and drivers compares 47 countries worldwide, including M2M/IoT in the total bases. Mobile data usage grew in 44 of them, with Austria, Bahrain and China being exceptions.
If you’d rather see the analysis excluding M2M, go here.
When usage grows, the growth rates are slowing. Cyprus, however, had an astonishing growth rate of 123%, in stark contrast to much slower growth rates, or even declines, elsewhere.
Tefficient’s 39th public analysis of mobile data development and drivers compares 39 countries worldwide, where M2M/IoT can be excluded from the total bases. Mobile data usage grew in 38 of them – with Bahrain as the only exception.
If you’d rather see the analysis including M2M, go here.
When usage grows, the growth rates are slowing. Portugal leads with a growth rate of 47%, contrasting with Taiwan‘s modest 8% growth. Bahrain experienced a decline of 6% in data usage.
Data-only subscriptions continue to dominate average mobile data usage, although their market share remains limited. Latvia‘s average data-only subscription consumed 138 GB per month in 2022 while Austria recorded 115 GB in the first half of 2023. In the FWA-only category, Australia had a remarkable 334 GB per month in 1H 2023.
While data-only drives traffic, the same can’t be said for 5G
Reporting is imperfect, but there are only three countries with disproportionately high 5G traffic in relation to their 5G bases: South Korea, Austria and Saudi Arabia. We explain what these countries do and what other countries are missing.
The Q3 results just reported by Telia Company, Telenor, Tele2, 3 Scandinavia and Elisa show that it’s quite difficult not to be successful as a Nordic telco today.
Revenue and ARPU is growing. OPEX grows too, but slower than the revenue, so the EBITDA margins are increasing. Churn is decreasing. CAPEX is in decline. More cash is being generated.
We have identified seven signs that competition in cooling down in Nordic telco.
Sign 1. Mobile ARPU grows
Let’s start with Norway. The reported blended mobile ARPU has quite steadily increased for the two MNOs that still report it. For Telenor it grew 4% year-on-year to Q3 2023. For Telia it grew 3%.
In Sweden, the ARPU development has been a bit more dramatic than in Norway. Three players, first 3, then Telenor and the B2B side of Tele2, witnessed their ARPUs going down from 2018 to the first half of 2021. A corona effect, you might say. Not really; it started before corona started (Q1 2020) and compare with Telia who could keep their ARPU steady or even increase it when 3, Telenor and Tele2 B2B seemingly fought a battle on price.
But there are several companies – some with global, some with local ambitions – that offer their take on who has the best mobile network. To differentiate, providers define different metrics and use different methodologies. Rather than boring you with those, we have compiled a cross-case table naming the winner per each metric across three global network experience specialists: Opensignal (now having merged with Tutela), Ookla Speedtest and umlaut.
We have included the latest overall or 5G-specific tests made public in Q4 2022 or 2023.
Fiberalliancen is a trade association for companies that own, operate and use fibre networks in Denmark. It is a part of Green Power Denmark.
For the third time (previously done in 2021 and in 2022), Tefficient has performed a comprehensive fibre broadband pricing benchmark covering nine European markets: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and France.
In a press release, Fiberalliancen introduces Tefficient’s analysis and makes it publicly available. Download it from the right ‘Dokumenter’ column. It’s in English.
The release concludes that:
Denmark has some of the lowest consumer prices for both new and existing fibre connections.
Danish consumer prices – both for new and existing connections – have overall fallen from 2022 to 2023. This is only seen in Denmark and the Netherlands.
Tefficient’s approach has been thorough and the results are presented in a set of graphs like below.
Example graph from the analysis showing the total 2-year fee for the new build fibre case. The red trend line highlights Denmark’s position.
Since the onset of inflation in Europe at the beginning of 2022, Tefficient has been reporting on its progress through a series of LinkedIn posts and tweets. We have compared the overall inflation to the inflation within the ‘Communication’ component of the European Central Bank’s Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP).
The ‘Communication’ component closely reflects telecommunication prices, encompassing telecommunication services and equipment, albeit also including postal services. In August 2023, it accounted for 2.7% of the expenditure weight in HICP for the Eurozone.
If we rewind to a year ago, Europe’s telecommunications companies had a significant ‘inflation deficit’ when compared to the overall inflation. The graph below illustrates the gap between:
Tefficient, in its 38th public analysis of mobile data trends, has ranked 116 operators based on metrics like average data usage per subscription, total data traffic and revenue per gigabyte. This issue covers the full year of 2022 and the first half of 2023.
Notably, 97% of operators witnessed an upswing in data usage per subscription in 2022, with 75% of them successfully translating this into increased ARPU.
Norway’s Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development last week published two analyses commissioned from Tefficient.
The conclusion is summarised (in Norwegian) in a press release from the Ministry.
Both analyses are quite comprehensive and compare Norway to the three fellow Nordic countries Denmark, Sweden and Finland. It means that they are highly interesting not just for the industry and policy makers in Norway, but in all four countries.
An example graph from the fixed analysis:
Since the Ministry has made both analyses available for public download, you can access them directly and for free from here:
Tefficient’s 37th public analysis of mobile data development and drivers compares trends across 37 countries worldwide, excluding M2M/IoT from the total bases.
Previous analyses have shown that the pandemic led to a significant increase in mobile data usage. However, the demand for more mobile data has since slowed down. In 2022, Czechia experienced the highest growth rate in mobile data usage, reaching 59%. At the other end of the spectrum, Qatar and Taiwan had relatively lower increases, both below 9%.