After the trough of 2009 and hesitant growth in 2010, the global mobile telecommunications market has been growing at a moderate pace since 2011.

Growth in 2013 stood at 2,4%. “We have observed that, by and large, telecom services are recovering more slowly than the economy as a whole,” reports Didier Pouillot, head of IDATE’s Telecom Players & Markets Business Unit, releasing the findings of the company’s World Telecoms Services Watch.

Now in a recovery phase, telecom markets in advanced countries are proving somewhat resilient, whereas in fast-developing markets the underlying momentum is coming from volume. This phenomenon is telling of a mature industry
now driven more by demographics than economics.

In Africa/the Middle East, for instance, the drop in regional GDP in 2009 (-6%) and its rebound in 2010 (+16%) had very little impact on telecom services growth rates which remained very high both years: +8% and +9%, respectively.
According to IDATE, global telecom services revenue will increase from €1 186-billion in 2013 to €1 341-billion in 2018, representing an average annual growth of 2,5%.

Revenue from mobile services will grow by 17% between 2013 and 2018 (+3% a year on average), reaching €826-billion in 2018.

Revenue generated data transmission and Internet access will enjoy more substantial growth (+24% between 2013 and 2018, i.e. an average +4% per annum), to reach €338-billion in 2018.

Fixed telephony revenue will continue its sharp decline: -15% between 2013 and 2018, i.e. dropping by an average 3% a year, down to €177-billion in 2018.

The study indicates that the number of mobile customers worldwide should top the 8-billion mark by the end of 2018 (+21% in 5 years).

The number of fixed Internet subscribers will grow more slowly (+18% between 2013 and 2018, +3% a year on average). The one-billion mark is not expected to be reached before 2020.

Traditional landlines will continue to lose ground as VoIP and mobiles gain.

According to IDATE, the number of fixed broadband subscribers is expected to reach 858-million worldwide by 2018, for a penetration rate of 12% of the global population. The number of LTE customers is shooting up, and LTE-
Advanced users are expected to increase swiftly in early adopter countries.

IDATE forecasts more than 1,3-billion LTE subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2017, generating a total €400-billion in revenue

Two major factors will work in broadband’s favour: the success of bundled offers (fixed telephony, VoIP, TV, mobile telephony) and the appetite for video applications; and telcos’ investments in migrating their infrastructures to mobile or fixed broadband.

European operators are still in trouble, with a growth momentum that is running out of steam, despite strong investment needs. However, North American telcos are benefiting from a solid growth rate at home, especially in the mobile market.