Telco revenues: my facts, your opinions

I don't think I'm stepping out of line when I say that every good analysis combines facts and opinion.

I don't think I'm stepping out of line when I say that every good analysis combines facts and opinion.

This week, rather than sharing both facts and opinions with you as usual, I thought I would try an experiment. While I have lots of opinions about the facts I'll present to you this week, I'm going to withhold them and see what you think.

Read the facts below, ruminate on their implications, and please share your thoughts below. I will post my own thoughts on these facts - which would normally comprise the second part of this column - after the weekend. In the meantime, I'm quite curious to see what you all think these numbers mean for Australia's telco market.

Here's the factual part:

As regular readers would have noticed, I've spent some time recently trolling through annual reports of various telecommunications providers around the world.

This was triggered by a Telstra chart touting the carrier's growth in comparison to the growth rates of several of Europe's more poorly performing mobile carriers, and a question as to why there weren't more efforts to get involved in the growth of more rapidly-expanding providers in India and elsewhere.

Reading through one annual report after another, I was struck by something — but I'll reveal what when I post the opinion half of this piece. For now, let me provide you with these facts, taken straight from each telco's fiscal 2007 financial reports.

ARPU means average revenue per user and is quoted here as an annual figure for easy comparison.

TeliaSonera, which has 115 million customers in nearly two dozen countries, generated overall revenues of SEK96.3 billion (AU$17.5 billion) for the year. This included SEK44.5 billion (AU$8.1 billion) from 14.5 million mobile customers for an ARPU of AU$559. Approximately 2.3 million broadband customers provided SEK270 (AU$49) per month for the company, equal to an annual ARPU of AU$588.

SingTel, with operations in nine countries, reported revenues of S$13.151 billion (AU$10.47 billion). This includes S$320 million from 421,000 broadband subscribers (S$760/AU$605 ARPU) and S$238 million from 1.82 million Singaporean mobile customers (S$131/AU$104 ARPU). It also includes AU$7.48 billion revenues from Optus, which reported AU$1.02 billion in revenues from around seven million mobile customers (AU$146 ARPU) and an unspecified amount of revenue from 781,000 broadband customers.

NTT Communications from Japan saw revenues of Y1145.4 billion (AU$12.2 billion), including Y319.7 billion (AU$3.39 billion) from 6.1 million Internet subscribers (AU$556 ARPU). NTT DoCoMo, a separate provider of mobile services, reported 52.6 million subscribers and generated revenues of around Y338b (based on a stated ARPU of Y6430 per month = AU$819 per year) or around AU$43 billion for the year.

Verizon, with well over 100 million customers, reported revenues of US$93.5 billion (AU$100 billion). This included US$43.9 billion (AU$47.4 billion) from 65.7 million mobile customers (ARPU AU$721) and 8.2 million broadband customers; revenues from those customers weren't broken out.

AT&T reported revenues of $US119 billion (AU$126.9 billion), with 70 million mobile subscribers generating US$11.4 billion (AU$12.3 billion) in revenues, for an ARPU of AU$176. Broadband revenues were US$6.1 billion (AU$6.6 billion) from 14.2 million customers for an ARPU of AU$430.

Telstra reported revenues of AU$23.7 billion from 25.1 million total customers. This included $5.7 billion from 9.212 million mobile customers, for AU$619 ARPU, and $1.95 billion from 4.822 million broadband customers, for an ARPU of AU$404.

Telco Broadband customers Broadband ARPU AU$ Mobile customers Mobile ARPU AU$ Annual revenue (AU$)
TeliaSonera 2.3m $588 14.5m $559 $17.5bn
SingTel 421,000 $605 1.82m $104 $10.47bn (includes Optus)
Optus 781,000 unspecified 7m $146 $7.48bn
NTT Comms/ DoCoMo 6.1m $556 52.6m $819 $12.2bn
Verizon / Verizon Wireless 8.2m unspecified 65.7m $721 $100bn
AT&T 14.2m $430 70m $176 $126.9bn
Telstra 4.822m $404 9.212m $619 $23.7bn

Please discuss. I look forward to reading all of your thoughts.