Telecommunications industry

At a glance

The telecommunications industry has grown rapidly in size to provide essential services that facilitate a fundamental human need to communicate.


Industry global mobile customers


  • There are 4.7 billion mobile customers across the globe with growth of around 20% per annum over the last three years. The majority of customers are in emerging markets such as India and China. Vodafone is a leading company with a 7% share of the global market.

The industry has 4.7 billion mobile customers across the globe, up from 2.7 billion in 2006.

Mobile customers (m)


Consumers are increasingly choosing to make voice calls over mobile rather than fixed phones and mobile calls accounted for 70% of all phone calls made in 2009 compared to 50% in 2006. As a result the number of mobile users now far exceeds the number of fixed telephones (1.3 billion).

Over the last three years mobile customer growth has been strongest in emerging markets such as India and China. In contrast growth has been more muted in developed regions such as Europe which are relatively mature..

Mobile penetration

Mobile penetration at December 2009 (%)

  • Global mobile penetration is around 70% and is generally higher in more mature markets such as Europe and the United States but is growing most quickly in emerging markets such as India, China and Africa.

Mobile penetration (the proportion of the population that have a mobile) has grown to around 70% from 40% in December 2006.

Looking forward the number of worldwide mobile phone users is expected to continue to grow strongly. Most of this growth is expected in emerging markets such as India, China and Africa where mobile penetration is around 50% compared to about 130% in mature markets such as Europe.

Developing countries are generally expected to deliver faster GDP growth which combined with relatively little alternative fixed line infrastructure is positive for mobile penetration growth prospects.

Competition and regulation

Vodafone outgoing voice prices and minutes (%)

  • Ongoing competitive and regulatory pressures have contributed to significant reductions in mobile prices which are being partly offset by higher mobile usage.

Competition in the telecommunications industry is intense. Consumers have a large choice of communication offers from established mobile and fixed line operators. Newer competitors, including handset manufacturers, internet based companies and software providers, are also entering the market offering converged communication services.

Industry regulators continue to impose lower mobile termination rates (the fees mobile companies charge for calls received from other companies’ networks) and lower roaming prices. Termination fees and roaming charges accounted for 17% of Group revenue in 2010.

The combination of competition and regulatory pressures have contributed to a 17% per annum decline in the average price per minute across our global network over the last three years. However price pressures are being partly offset by increased usage. During the year our customers spoke for an average of 191 minutes per month compared to 137 in 2007.

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