Operator profitability in the mobile segment in Europe is under pressure, particularly in more mature markets where expensive handsets are often subsidized in order to drive growth in high ARPU postpaid segments. In retracting device subsidy offers, operators have the potential to ease this financial pressure and lower the cost per customer acquisition, as discussed in Section 1. Such strategic shifts can merit rewards but are never risk-free.
Section 2 contains specific European case studies (Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Bulgaria) where other device financing models have been adopted, in addition to the four operators in the US, with particular focus on financial performance. Section 3 focuses on the key factors that operators must take into account when adopting such models (e.g., regulations or consumer purchasing power) before a summary of key findings and recommendations is provided.
This report, 'Implications of Device Financing Plans and Lack of Handset Subsidies for Operator Profitability in Europe', part of the series of Telecom Insider Reports for Europe, examines in detail the dynamics of the mobile devices market in terms of operator handset financing. Specifically, it includes analysis of strategic drivers and implications for operators that have moved away from the widely adopted handset subsidization model, instead looking to alternative methods such as equipment installment plans (EIPs) and leasing.
T-Mobile pioneered the EIP in the US telecom market via its Jump! Plan in 2013, as part of its ‘Un-carrier’ strategy to simplify and disrupt the consumer market. Since then, competitors AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have followed suit and now offer non-subsidized device financing plans. This report assesses the potential for similar levels of adoption in European markets.
- Subsidized handsets and lengthy contracts have been a common offering from many operators to support mobile subscriptions growth.
- Pressures on operator profitability in the mobile market may prompt European operators to adopt alternate, non-subsidized device financing models, if they haven’t already.
- If executed well, withdrawal of handset subsidies and adoption of new financing models can have a positive impact on operator profitability, while offering consumers greater transparency and flexibility.
- Strategic shifts concerning handset financing can have a negative impact on telcos if conditions are not right, as various case studies show.
- Constraints on SIM-locking, MNP and contract duration limits are factors for operators to consider when determining successful handset financing strategies.
Reasons to buy
- This report examines the dynamics of the mobile devices market in Europe in terms of operator handset financing, providing stakeholders with an in depth view of the market and competitive landscape. Detailed analysis of diverse handset financing models (eg. subsidization, equipment instalment plans and leasing) and the implications for operators that have moved away from the widely adopted handset subsidization model, is invaluable when planning and aligning product offerings moving forwards. This report discusses the recent strategic move to non-subsidized financing plans in the USA and assesses the potential for similar levels of adoption in European markets.
- Helps executives build proactive, profitable growth strategies by offering comprehensive and relevant analysis of handset financing strategies in the European region, regulatory framework, competitive environment and operator best practises.
- The case studies, which give detailed analysis of the effects that alternative handset financing strategies have had on reported operator financial performance, focus on key European markets (Germany, Netherlands, UK, and Bulgaria) as well as the USA and can be beneficial to both local players and prospective market entrants.
- By understanding the interests and positions of key operators in the smartphones market, telecom professionals/operators can develop strategies and increase their market participation.
Section 1: Market Landscape
The subsidized handset model - drivers for operator adoption
Examples of operator handset subsidy models in Europe
Rationale for operators adopting alternative device financing models
Europe mobile market overview
Section 2: Case Studies
O2 My Handy (Germany)
O2 Refresh (United Kingdom)
Telenor Lease (Bulgaria)
Synopsis of handset financing dynamics in the United States
Verizon Device Payments
T-Mobile Jump!/Jump! On Demand
Section 3: Key Findings & Recommendations
Key considerations for operators when determining handset financing strategy
Overview of handset financing model types
Summary of key findings and recommendations
List of Exhibits
Exhibit 1: The optimum time for operators to employ handset subsidy models
Exhibit 2: T-Mobile Poland iPhone 7 (32GB) postpaid pricing
Exhibit 3: Orange France iPhone 7 (32GB) postpaid pricing
Exhibit 4: Carphone Warehouse UK prepaid/SIM-free pricing
Exhibit 5: Year-on-year smartphone sales growth (%)
Exhibit 6: WE mobile revenue mix (%)
Exhibit 7: Postpaid penetration of total subs (%)
Exhibit 8: O2 My Handy EIP with no mobile service plan
Exhibit 9: O2 My handy handset/airtime bundle
Exhibit 10: O2 Germany total revenue year-on-year growth (%)
Exhibit 11: O2 Germany total OIBDA margin (%) trends
Exhibit 12: Subscriptions Penetration of population in German market (%)
Exhibit 13: KPN EIP with KPN Complete
Exhibit 14: KPN consumer mobile revenue year-onyear growth (%)
Exhibit 15: KPN consumer mobile EBITDA margin (%)
Exhibit 16: Operator mobile subscriptions share, Netherlands (%)
Exhibit 17: O2 Refresh decouples the handset and airtime plans
Exhibit 18: O2 Refresh as part of O2’s ‘Be More Dog’ marketing campaign
Exhibit 19: O2 UK mobile revenue by contributing factor (€bn)
Exhibit 20: O2 UK mobile revenue year-on-year growth (%)
Exhibit 21: Operator mobile subscriptions share, UK (%)
Exhibit 22: Mobile Data User Penetration of POP
Exhibit 23: Telenor Bulgaria device financing
Exhibit 24: Telenor Bulgaria total - revenue (NOK bn)
Exhibit 25: Telenor Bulgaria total EBITDA margin (%)
Exhibit 26: Operator mobile subscriptions share, Bulgaria
Exhibit 27: Vivacom Bulgaria smartphone FinancingExhibit 28: Verizon Wireless revenue year-on-year growth (%)
Exhibit 29: Verizon Wireless EBITDA margins (%)
Exhibit 30: AT&T Mobility operating revenue mix
Exhibit 31: AT&T Mobility operating revenue growth
Exhibit 32: T-Mobile operating metrics ($bn)
Exhibit 33: T-Mobile revenue growth trends (%)
Exhibit 34: Sprint mobile churn trends -
Exhibit 35: Sprint mobile postpaid sales by plan -
Exhibit 36: Slovakia mobile operator market sharedynamics (%)
Exhibit 37: Spain mobile operator market shares dynamics (%)