Economic Crisis Pushes Record Number of Mobile Phone Users to Change Companies

Cell Phones in Store
Companies are making greater and greater offers in order to capture clients. Photo by EFE.

Economic Crisis Pushes Record Number of Mobile Phone Users to Change Companies
540,000 subscribers used the portability mechanism to change service operators in January
El País: La crisis empuja a los usuarios a cambiar más que nunca de compañía móvil
Ramón Muñoz reporting from Madrid March 13, 2012

The crisis is pushing more and more cell phone users to shave a little off their bills. Phone companies, in turn, are sweetening their offers more and more. This combination has lead to a record number of subscription changes in a month: this January, 539,599 mobile users changed phone service operators thanks to portability, the mechanism which allows users to keep the same telephone number despite the change, according to data from the Telecommunications Market Commission.

So-called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO), which do not have their own networks but instead rent space from large operators, lead the market. They captured more than two thirds of the 166,922 in net gains for mobile telephones (124,690). As for operators with their own networks, Vodafone gained 72,290 lines and Yoigo 46,470, while Orange and Movistar lost 44,180 and 36,270 lines, respectively.

The number of mobile telephone lines as a whole rose to 58,880,647 lines in January, 3.2% more than there were the year before. (The population of Spain is roughly 46 million.) This January’s growth was much reinforced by datacards (SIM cards devoted to Internet connections), which in January increased by 82,901 lines, breaking four consecutive months of losses.

Movistar and Vodafone were the operators that lost the most market share in the past year – 1.7% and 1.1% respectively – and they now have 39.89% and 28.25% of the market, respectively. Orange (20.08%) basically maintained its relative market position. The MVNOs and Yoigo increased their totals by 1.71% and 1.16%, respectively, to achieve 6.53% and 5.25% market share.

Fixed Broadband
Broadband services added 40,363 lines, so their growth rate was the same as it was the previous month. This pace is principally thanks to alternative operators, which registered 35,450 net gains. Telefónica, for its part, added 2080 lines to its network. Cable operators gained 2830 lines, reversing their December losses. The total number of broadband lines reached 11,188,297, showing a year-to-year growth rate of 4.7%.

Fiber optic lines in homes continued to increase. 9906 lines were added during the month (less than in December), and the total number of lines reached 181,083, the greater part of them for Telefónica. This majority owner lost 7866 ADSL lines that month, and thus lost 3.51% of its share, to fall to 49.13%. Alternative services gained 3.54% in the same period, and they now hold 31.5% of the market. Cable operators practically maintained their relative position in third place.

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