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.
Lobbyists coined the term “the race to 5G”. If there ever was such a race, South Korea won it as unlike other markets there are – read on – many reported numbers to support a leadership claim. With 4.7 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2019, 7% of Korea’s mobile subscribers used 5G just nine months after launch.
The subscriber take-up has been fast, but not linear. In August, September and October, when Samsung launched three new 5G smartphones (Note 10, A90 and Fold) and LG updated its V50 smartphone, 5G sales was exceptionally fast. During November and December no new smartphones were introduced and South Korea missed the expectation of 5 million 5G subscribers by year end 2019.
We look at what happened to the MVNO businesses when Orange, SFR and Bouygues launched their sub-brands Sosh, Red and B&YOU during second half of 2011 in preparation for the announced launch of Free mobile.
MVNOs were once the challengers typically differentiating through targeted segmentation or price – or both. With the emergence of MNO sub-brands one could fear for what happens to MVNOs in a market.