Spanish mobile market recovers to only a 4.5% drop in 2015

Thursday 28 April 2016 | 10:53 CET | Background

The drop in mobile service revenues in Spain slowed considerably in 2015, to just 4.5 percent compared to 12.8 percent the previous year, according to the latest figures from Telecompaper. The strong price erosion was offset by the increasing uptake of converged service bundles. Competition in the converged market may be set to intensify, as the local player MasMovil enters the market, possibly with its own mobile network after a bid for Yoigo.

The pressure from the weak economy and shift to lower-cost providers over the past two years appears to be relenting in Spain. In the last quarter of 2015, mobile service revenues declined by only 3.8 percent year-on-year to EUR 2.3 billion. The impact of the price war on convergent offers and the effects of the last MTR cut have lessened, with service revenues down only around 3 percent in the past three quarters.

Orange was the star performer in Q4 and gained 1.6 percent points of revenue market share in the past year, strengthened by its acquisition of Jazztel. Orange was the only operator to grow its customer base over 2015 and increased its subscriber market share to almost a third of total.

Vodafone (even including ONO) saw the largest annual revenue drop and also lost 3.8 percent of its customer base over the year, reducing its market share. Vodafone attributed the revenue drop mainly to the reduction in out-of-bundle data revenue following the introduction of a data cap in September 2015 and the negative impact of financing handsets.

Movistar and Yoigo saw their revenue shares largely stable in Q4, as respectively the biggest (36.9%) and smallest (6.5%) of the four network operators. Movistar profited from demand for its converged offers, with 70 percent of its broadband customers now on the Movistar Fusion plans. However, the market leader also showed a net loss in mobile customers in 2015, of 1.8 percent.

Yoigo’s position remains fragile, as its customer base did not grow in the second half of 2015, nor in the first quarter of 2016. At the end of 2015, it had 3.6 percent fewer customers than a year earlier. The Telia subsidiary, which lacks its own fixed infrastructure, has struggled to compete in the converged bundles market and in the beginning of 2016 stopped offering its fixed-mobile plans.

It looks increasingly likely that Telia will abandon the Spanish market to one of the emerging local players, either MasMovil, which is already building its own LTE network, or Zegona, the investment vehicle behind regional broadband provider Telecableve. MasMovil appears to have the edge, and the takeover would give it the mobile network it needs to add to the fixed broadband assets it acquired from Orange last year, allowing it to launch a fully convergent offer.

In part thanks to its M&A strategy, MasMovil increased its mobile customer base to 458,000 at the end of 2015, some 29 percent more than a year earlier. In terms of market share, MasMovil had less than 1 percent at the end of 2015, while Yoigo had 6.5 percent. Whether its acquisitions continues or not, Masmovil is going after the converged services market with an offer of fibre broadband plus mobile for around EUR 40 per month, priced well below the competition. If the price war erupts again, the tentative recovery in Spanish mobile revenues may be short-lived.


The above figures are based on Telecompaper’s database on the Spanish mobile market, which is available for purchase. For more information, click here.

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