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Mobile operators feeling pressure from OTT and free services


Campbell, CALIFORNIA, December 20, 2012—Market research firm Infonetics Research released excerpts from its 2G, 3G, 4G (LTE) Services and Subscribers: Voice, SMS/MMS, and Broadband market size and forecasts report, which tracks mobile services revenue, mobile voice and data average revenue per user (ARPU), and mobile voice and broadband subscribers.


“As we approach mobile saturation, the mobile industry is undeniably shifting from voice to data, and over-the-top voice revenue is shifting away from mobile operators,” notes Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at Infonetics Research. “SMS use is fading in places like Japan, the US, the Netherlands, and the UK in favor of free applications over mobile broadband that enable internet browsing, email and, more importantly, video. Those services may be free to subscribers, but handling the traffic is not free to the network operators.”

Téral adds: “Service providers are spending billions of dollars to upgrade their networks to handle the skyrocketing traffic; if they don’t, they face network outages and subscriber turnover. They’re all looking for cost savings and efficiencies. But it comes down to subscribers either being willing to pay a fair price for the services provided or not.”


  • Mobile service revenue is increasing year-over-year but the growth rate is decreasing and in some cases not keeping pace with network operator capital expenditures (capex)
  • Despite the rise of revenue from mobile data services, blended ARPU continues to fall or stay flat due to fierce competition, declining voice ARPU, and regulatory tariffs
  • Mobile broadband services are growing fastest, with global revenue on track to nearly double between 2012 and 2016
  • Revenue from services carried on W-CDMA/HSPA networks will exceed revenue from CDMA2000/EV-DO-based services by more than 6-fold by 2016
  • Thanks to its aggressive LTE strategy, Verizon Wireless now accounts for just over 1/3 of the world’s 44 million LTE subscribers
  • Asia Pacific is home to around 45% of the world’s 1.1 billion mobile broadband subscribers
  • Mobile broadband subscribers are expected to surpass contract voice subscribers by 2015


Infonetics’ biannual mobile services report provides worldwide and regional market size, forecasts, analysis, and trends for mobile broadband, SMS/MMS and voice mobile service revenue, ARPU and subscribers by network type (W-CDMA/HSPA, CDMA2000/EV-DO, TD-SCDMA, and LTE). The report features a Mobile Broadband Service Tracker following service provider deployments by country, technology, and number of subscribers. To buy the report, contact Infonetics:




Download Infonetics’ research brochure, publication calendar, report highlights, tables of contents, prospectuses and more at


  • Western NA, Asia, CALA: Larry Howard (VP),, +1-408-583-3335
  • Eastern NA, Texas, Midwest: Scott Coyne,, +1-408-583-3395
  • EMEA: George Stojsavljevic,, +44-755-488-1623
  • Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan:

Infonetics Research ( is an international market research and consulting firm serving the communications industry since 1990. A leader in defining and tracking emerging and established technologies in all world regions, Infonetics helps clients plan, strategize, and compete more effectively.

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"As we approach mobile saturation, the mobile industry is undeniably shifting from voice to data, and over-the-top voice revenue is shifting away from mobile operators."

Stéphane Téral, Principal Analyst
Mobile Infrastructure & Carrier Economics


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