Canada Sees Lowest 4th-Quarter Gain Since 1997
Published on: 27th Mar 2009
Note -- this news article is more than a year old.
Despite the fact that the Canadian mobile market is probably the least developed in the Western world with a penetration rate of just 63.9% at the end of 2008 it performed poorly in the fourth quarter of the year. Quarterly net additions stood at just under 410k down from 580k in Q4 07. In fact this was the smallest fourth quarter gain since 1997. More worryingly still this was the first year since 1990 that fourth quarter net additions were not the highest of the year the Q3 08 increase was more than 27% higher than the Q4 08 figure at 520k.
It seems clear that the difficult economic circumstances were at the root of this performance. While most markets have been relatively unaffected by the downturn, Canada's ARPUs are amongst the highest in the world and it is therefore unsurprising that growth should have been hit. Market leader Rogers led the way with a quarterly average of Can$63.44 per month in Q4 08, with TELUS not far behind on Can$62.16. Regional operator MTS recorded a figure of Can$57.40 while Bell was a little more reasonable with Can$54.22. Although there were quarter-on-quarter declines across the board, this was consistent with the standard seasonal pattern, and the 2008 declines were only a little larger than those recorded a year earlier.
These figures yield a national average ARPU of around Can$60 per month, equivalent to approximately US$49 or €36. This is surely unsustainable in the long term, not just because of the credit crunch, but also because of the launch of Orascom which is scheduled for Q4 09. Given that Orascom recorded a 2008 EBITDA margin of 41% in Pakistan based on a US$3 ARPU, its prospects in a market which is still less than two-thirds penetrated and which has such high levels of expenditure seem encouraging to say the least.
In real terms, the total market stood at 21.63m customers at the end of 2008. Rogers led the way with 7.94m ahead of Bell (6.50m) and TELUS (6.13m). The other operators, MTS and SaskTel, are both regional (operating in Manitoba and Saskatchewan provinces) and with 0.4m and 0.5m connections respectively they have little market presence.