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Wireless Operator Margins Holding Despite Falling Subscriber Value

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Wireless Operator EBITDA margins improved to 40% in Q1 2008, driven by healthy gains in Asia Pacific and Latin America, according to a new Strategy Analytics report. Only half of mobile operators in Western Europe recorded EBITDA growth, as a recovery in the UK was overshadowed by continued challenges in the Nordics, Italy and Germany.

This quarterly report provides a health check for the wireless operator community, tracking the operational and financial performance of over 150 individual operators, accounting for 80% of the world's cellular users. It found EBITDA levels for mobile operators grew by over 20% in Central and Eastern Europe between Q1 2007 and Q1 2008, though by less than 1% in Western Europe.

"Mobile operators in many parts of the world are managing operating expenses (OPEX) effectively and are still increasing profits despite falls in average revenues per subscriber," comments Phil Kendall, Director, Global Wireless Practice, and author of the report. "OPEX per subscriber is actually falling faster in Western Europe than some other regions, but revenues are being squeezed even harder there."

Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Senior Analyst, Global Wireless Practice adds, "Latin America was one of the stronger performing regions, with Telefonica, in particular, making excellent gains at its units in Mexico and Columbia. North America would have also stood out as a region posting strong EBITDA growth across the board, were it not for the continued turmoil at Sprint."

Top 10 Wireless Operators by EBITDA Growth

Country Operator EBITDA Growth 1Q07-1Q08
Mexico Telefonica Movistar 285%
Brazil Brasil Telecom 234%
Iraq AtheerTel 180%
US iPCS 162%
Uzbekistan Beeline 137%
Brazil Telemar 108%
Russia Tele2 93%
Colombia Telefonica Movistar 88%
Argentina Telecom Personal 86%
India Vodafone 60%

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Tags: analytics  telefonica  health  telefonica,