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Slow Global Wireless Operator EBITDA Boosted by USA Gains

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The 2 percent growth in global wireless operator EBITDA in Q4 2013 was almost entirely achieved by strong US performance and, within the US, by growth at the top four operators, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

The report found that Q4 2013 EBITDA grew 22 percent in the US, with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile increasing their share of industry profitability.

Outside of the USA, wireless operator EBITDA fell 2 percent. Other large EBITDA-generating markets such as Japan and China struggled, with the Chinese market starting to see profits decline in 2013, while many developed markets remain in a relatively long-term phase of EBITDA decline.

Phil Kendall, Executive Director, Wireless Operator Strategies, commented: "For those markets experiencing rapid EBITDA declines, operator consolidation seems like an obvious solution. However, while regulators continue to resist such moves, operators should focus their improvement plans on efficiency programs built around network modernization and device subsidy control, coupled with realistic revenue uplift strategies."

Wireless service revenue grew 4 percent in the US in Q4 2013, compared with a 9 percent fall in Western Europe. This was the foundation for the strong US EBITDA performance, boosted further by tighter upgrade policies and more efficient networks.

Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Director, Wireless Operator Strategies said: "Tiered and shared data plans have been an important tool in driving up end-user spend in the highly-penetrated US market, providing a platform from which cost control strategies can deliver profitable growth. This is a growth scenario which many other developed wireless markets are struggling to execute."

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