Global wireless ARPUs drops 6.4%

Posted on March 28, 2007  /  0 Comments | Mar 05, 2007

A new report has revealed that monthly ARPU is declining globally, but the gap between operators with the world’s highest and lowest monthly ARPU remains huge.

The research study from analyst firm TeleGeography showed that based on a data set of more than 130 mobile operators, ARPU fell by an average of 6.4% between September 2005 and September 2006.

“Not surprisingly, providers with higher ARPU tended to be in countries with relatively high incomes — predominately in Western Europe and the US,” the report stated.

Surprisingly, tiny BTCI, Turkmenistan’s dominant mobile operator, topped the rankings, with ARPU of $83, far ahead of any other operators. At the opposite extreme lies Bangladesh’s Banglalink, which generated monthly revenues of only $3.30 per subscriber, the report said.

In saturated markets, lower voice tariffs and declining minutes of use contributed to the decline in ARPUs, whereas in fast-growing emerging markets the addition of incrementally less wealthy users to the subscriber base is the main cause behind the fall.

“A trait shared by most high ARPU companies is a low percentage of pre-paid users and high 3G subscriber growth. Growing data revenues are helping these providers to offset declining voice revenue,” commented Mark Gibson, an analyst at TeleGeography.

The gap between high and low ARPU providers showed no sign of narrowing, the study claimed. “In fact, the five carriers with the lowest revenue per  subscriber experienced far more rapid declines in ARPU than the five carriers at the top of the ranking. However, falling ARPU were offset by dramatic subscriber growth: the five low-ARPU carriers increased their total revenues by 175%.”

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