Table of Contents
The UK has one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, both in terms of revenue and in the number of subscribers. It is served by major providers with a significant international presence. Recent merger activity has seen dramatic consolidation in the market and has had knock-on effects for network infrastructure deals struck between them in recent years. The merger of Orange and T-Mobile created EE as the largest operator, which in January 2016 was sold to BT, becoming a separate business unit within BT Group. The bid by Hutchison to acquire O2 was rejected by the European Commission in May 2016 on the grounds that the deal would have reduced the number of MNOs to three, and so impacted on market competition. A growing number of low-cost MVNOs provide effective price and service competition for subscribers. The market has also been characterised by developments in advanced data services delivered over upgraded networks, the bundling of mobile as a quad-play service, and regulatory controls on charges and fees. Mobile penetration is above the EU average, yet subscriber growth remains strong as consumers adopt additional SIMs as well as business-oriented devices and smartphones on various platforms.
Fierce competition has forced operators to concentrate on packaging service bundles and on promotions, and to explore applications such as mobile searching and advertising facilities. ARPU has been falling steadily for all operators, with growing mobile data use offsetting lower voice, interconnection and roaming tariffs. Spectrum auctions anticipated into 2016 will see more bandwidth made available for mobile broadband services, supported by regulatory moves which allow the refarming of 2G spectrum for 3G and 4G use.
This report surveys the UK's mobile market, providing an overview of mobile statistics, regulatory issues and technologies. It also profiles the major operators and MVNOs, and looks ahead to mobile developments in coming years.
Sky enters the mobile market via its MVNO Sky Mobile; EC blocks Hutchison bid for O2 UK; MTRs set to May 2018; BT retains EE as a separate business post-acquisition; EE launches Wi-Fi calling service; H3 reports continued revenue growth in 2015; Ofcom amends MNO licences to guarantee 90% geographic voice coverage by end-2017; EE develops micro antennae technology to extend mobile services to remote communities; TalkTalk secures access to O2's LTE network; government commits £150 million to its Mobile Infrastructure Project to improve rural mobile coverage; China Telecom launches MVNO service; H3 signs five-year managed services contract with Huawei; 4G auction in 2.6GHz and 800MHz bands delivers £2.34 billion; report update includes the regular's market reports and updates, telcos' financial and operating data, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
H3UK, Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (EE, incorporating T-Mobile and Orange), Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile
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