Emerging mobile world may benefit from developed ARPU decline

The future of mobile telephony for the developed world looks pretty bleak if one of the predictions made by telecoms, IT and media researcher Analysys rings true in the next five years.

As operators are likely to see a dramatic drop in average revenue per use (ARPU) in developed countries like the UK due to falling prices and non-voice services failing to deliver on what they promise, there are three plausible scenarios during the next half decade, according to Analysys' latest report entitled 'The Future of the Global Wireless Industry: scenarios for 2007-12.'

The three possibilities are: 'Emerging Markets Thrive,' 'Cellular Goes Indoors' and 'Lowcost Data Pipes.'

The first scenario is quite dangerous for the developed world. It is likely to lead to much consolidation in these markets, where mobile operators are forced to more aggressively cut costs and consider new ways of doing things, such as scaling back future investments or networking sharing. The latter of which has already started to happen here in the UK and Spain, as evidenced by Vodafone.

"We are already seeing early signs of this scenario," said Dr Mark Heath, co-author of the report.

"Despite a 23 per cent increase in voice usage per capita, the high level of fixed-mobile substitution in Finland has not increased ARPU. Furthermore, many mobile operators are finding it difficult to achieve non-voice ARPU of more than $8 per month. By contrast, Nokia sold almost twice as many handsets in developing countries as it sold in Europe and North America combined in the first quarter of 2007."

Dr Alastair Brydon, who also co-authored the report, added: "There is increasing uncertainty about the future of voice and non-voice services, the technologies that will be deployed and the extent to which growth will shift from developed to developing markets.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.