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Mobile operators set for steady growth in uncertain times

Mobile growth to outperform GDP, but high-speed network investment at risk

Over the last few weeks, mobile operators in mature markets seem to have shifted their focus from revenue stimulation to operating profitability. This is a direct response to the financial crisis, which forces most telecom players to show signs of healthy liquidity to face short- term debts and challenges. It also reflects the fact that, in mature markets, where penetration is high and competitive pressure drives down voice revenues, short term solvency is as important as revenue share. Managing costs will be the key challenge for the coming quarters, especially in mature markets. If mobile operators expect to offset voice price decline by driving mobile data usage, it will require network coverage improvement, consumer segmentation/targeting and marketing efforts. In other words, mobile operators that decide to squeeze capex and drastically reduce opex should not dismiss the effect such decisions can have in the medium to long term.

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