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Telecoms service market grows by four per cent to hit US$1.85 trillion

Computerworld staff writer | May 11, 2011
Ovum report predicts the sector is returning to sustainable growth.

SINGAPORE, 11 MAY 2011-Telecoms service provider revenues grew by four per cent in 2010 to reach US$1.85 trillion, driven by strong growth in the mobile market in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies, according to new figures from analyst firm Ovum.

Ovum looked at the 2010 financial performance of telecoms carriers across the globe for a new report, Telecom Finance: 4Q10/2010 Review of Vendor Results and Strategy. The four per cent growth represents a notable improvement from 2009, when revenues fell by four per cent.

Meanwhile average profitability showed positive signs, as measured by metrics such as operating cash flow and net profit margins, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortisation) and net debt.

Matt Walker, Ovum principal analyst and author of the report, commented: "It's too early to break out the champagne just yet, but within the context of a slowly improving global economy, the telecoms sector is returning to sustainable growth."

In terms of the opportunity for vendors, although service provider capex (capital expenditure) declined by three per cent in 2010, this was an improvement from the nine per cent capex decline in 2009. Significantly, in the fourth quarter of 2010, carrier capex rose two per cent when compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.

This modest year-on-year (YoY) service provider capex increase was the first such growth since the fourth quarter of 2008 - the year the financial crisis hit - and is another sign that recovery in the telecoms sector is on track. The Asia-Pacific region excluding China & India had the second best regional capex growth in 2010, versus 2009, up 4.4 per cent; India's 39 per cent drop was the poorest result. Ovum is optimistic on India's pick up in 2011-12. China, on the other hand, fell by 19 per cent, dropping capital intensity down to 26.6 per cent, the lowest since 2006.

Walker commented: "The late pick-up of global CAPEX in 2010 drove the full-year results. There is usually a fourth quarter budget flush, but 2010 was stronger than 2009, when most carriers remained jittery. Vendors who have faced several quarters of lean times are certainly happy to see the capex tap turned on again."

Most of the big vendors enjoyed healthy top-line YoY growth for the fourth quarter of 2010. The best performing of the larger vendors included ZTE and Juniper, with 40 per cent and 26 per cent YoY revenue growth respectively. Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson also did well with YoY growth of 13 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, Nokia Siemens Networks' (NSN) revenues in the fourth quarter of 2010 grew by 0.5 per cent to hit US$5.4 billion, NSN's first positive YoY revenue growth since the third quarter of 2008.



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