In 2013, roll-out of LTE services will have limited immediate economic impact, social media giants look set to stir up IP-based messaging services and smartphone penetration growth rates will slow considerably, according to Analysys Mason’s top telecoms predictions for the next 12 months. The company also predicts that Apple will continue to lose market share in the tablet space and the VoLTE investment case will come into the spotlight for operators.
1. LTE arrives, but with limited immediate impact: in
2013 LTE will become a commercial reality in many more countries, but
will have limited economic impact in the next 12 months. Some European
countries and emerging markets in Latin America are set to launch the
network, as well as countries in South-East Asia via the Asia–Pacific
band plan. Some developed markets such as South Korea will also start to
deploy LTE-A and take advantage of features such as carrier aggregation
to craft larger channels for higher-speed services.
However, the immediate economic impact of LTE will be limited in
countries where it has been priced as a premium product and the economy
remains sluggish (e.g. Italy and Spain). The industry will also realise
that consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for LTE mobile broadband,
and that this service will not compete with next-generation fixed access
on anything other than a complementary basis. The effect will be to
push down the price of 3G/HSPA mobile broadband services.
2. The ‘big switch-off’ will accelerate: 2013 will
see growing operator focus on ‘the big switch-off’ – legacy mobile
infrastructure for mobile network operators, copper networks and PSTN
for fixed operators. Approaches to this will be varied. One operator in
South Korea, for example, has already switched off its 2G network.
3. Social media giants to further shake up IP-based messaging: in
2012, operators responded to SMS cannibalisation by launching RCS-e,
which was followed by a number of ‘telco-OTT’ services. In the next 12
months, competition will heat up further as social media giants such as
Facebook move in. Analysys Mason forecasts that European operator
revenue from messaging will decline by 34% in the next four years, from
EUR28 billion in 2011 to EUR18.6 billion in 2017.
4. VoLTE investment case to come into the spotlight: the
first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services came to market in 2012. Though
widespread commercial deployments are still some way off, operators will
need to make some tough decisions about the future of their voice
services. Potential cost savings are currently driving the IMS
investment case, but revenue implications are uncertain, and a clear
vision for how voice services should evolve in an LTE world has yet to
be articulated. HTML5/WebRTC will further stimulate the debate about
whether ‘voice is just an application’.
5. Smartphone penetration growth rate to slow markedly: the
smartphone market will continue to grow but the rate at which it grows
will be markedly slower than in previous years. The number of annual
global smartphone shipments will grow from 691 million in 2012 to 869
million in 2013. However, the rate of growth in the rate of new
smartphone connections will significantly decline: from 39% in 2011 to
29% in 2012. In 2013, this growth rate will decline further to 20%.
Analysys Mason predicts continued, incremental development of the
smartphone OS market share situation. Both Android and iOS are predicted
to marginally grow their share of smartphone sales in the next 12
months globally (from 56.4% to 58.1% and 21.5% to 22% respectively).
However, Symbian’s market share for sales will fall from 5.9% to 2.7%,
reaching zero in 2016.
6. Apple to fall below 50% market share for tablet sales: as
the tablet market continues to grow, Apple’s dominance of it will
continue to decline, faster than many expect. Apple will fall below 50%
market share for tablets by the end of 2013, with the iPad mini expected
to have only a limited impact on sales numbers due to its high price
point (USD329 versus less than USD200 for a Kindle Fire HD). Both Apple
and Samsung lost market share in 2011-12 to the benefit of other vendors
such as HTC, Motorola, RIM and Sony.
Content ecosystems for tablets will be a key "differentiator" in 2013
and as important a feature for tablets as the quality and size of the
screen or processing power. Vendors who focus on expanding their content
line-up and international footprint will be most likely to capture
non-Apple tablet users.
7. Multi-device subscription pricing to emerge: selling
prices for smartphones and tablets have been falling in the past five
years; the average price of a smartphone has declined by EUR300 since
2007. This trend has supported increasing data penetration and the
emergence of the multi-device user segment, which will result in many
more operators launching multi-device subscription plans to capture
additional revenue. This is particularly true for LTE subscriptions
where per-gigabyte pricing covers a wide range of USD14–85 per gigabyte.
8. Traditional TV under more pressure: OTT/Connected
TV and non-linear TV will continue to force broadcasters/pay-TV and
telecoms operators to re-think their strategies. The take-up of paid-for
OTT video services to the TV in the USA and Canada will more than
double to 53.1 million households between 2012 and 2017, representing
37.4% of households.
The take-up of paid-for OTT video services in Europe will reach an
estimated 2.3 million households in 2012, representing a mere 0.7% of
households. We expect this to increase to 32.2 million, or 10% of
households, in 2017. Compared with the USA and Canada, growth in Europe
will continue to be constrained by a lower propensity to pay for video
services, because of the widespread availability of high-quality free
content from public broadcasters.
9. Wi-Fi to the rescue: small-cell/service-provider
Wi-Fi solutions will address mobile operators’ needs for dense urban
wireless coverage and capacity, but limited backhaul availability,
standards maturity and solution costs will blunt major deployments until
late 2013 or early 2014. LTE 2600 will emerge as a key option for
small-cell spectrum gaining network and device support to address
capacity needs of developed-market operators, complemented by growing
5GHz Wi-Fi providing improved Wi-Fi performance.
Service-provider Wi-Fi solutions based on HotSpot 2.0 and devices
supporting Passpoint 2.0 will come to market in late 2013, helping to
bridge the chasm between cellular networks and the emerging ‘carrier
grade’ Wi-Fi service. Operators will also start to look at providing
various grades of service: cellular, SP Wi-Fi and ‘Best Effort’ Wi-Fi to
help differentiate their service and brand as well as support
"monetisation" of the wireless experience.
10. Operators in emerging markets come of age: process
transformation, opex and network cost optimization will become major
issues in emerging markets as operators within these regions are coming
of age and an apparently endless growth in mobile penetration rates is
finally slowing down.
The penetration rates of active SIMs in some African and Middle
Eastern countries, for example, already exceed 100% of the population
(eg. South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates).