TeleGeography Update: Global Wireless ARPUs

1 Mar 2007

New research from TeleGeography’s Wireless Operator Metrics Research Service reveals that monthly revenue per subscriber (ARPU) is declining globally, but the gap between operators with the world’s highest and lowest monthly ARPU remains huge. From a data set of more than 130 mobile operators, between September 2005 and September 2006 ARPU fell by an average of 6.4%.

Not surprisingly, providers with higher ARPU tended to be in countries with relatively high incomes—predominately in Western Europe and the U.S. Surprisingly, tiny BTCI, Turkmenistan’s dominant mobile operator, topped the rankings, with ARPU of USD83, far ahead of any other operators. At the opposite extreme lies Bangladesh’s Banglalink, which generated monthly revenues of only USD3.3 per subscriber.

In saturated markets lower voice tariffs and declining minutes of use contribute to the decline in ARPUs, whereas in fast-growing emerging markets the addition of incrementally less wealthy users to the subscriber base is the main cause behind the fall. TeleGeography analyst Mark Gibson commented, “a trait shared by most high ARPU companies is a low percentage of pre-paid users and high 3G subscriber growth. Growing data revenues are helping these providers to offset declining voice revenue.”

The gap between high and low ARPU providers shows no sign of narrowing: in fact, the five carriers with the lowest revenue per subscriber experienced far more rapid declines in ARPU than the five carriers at the top of the ranking. However, falling ARPU were offset by dramatic subscriber growth: the five low-ARPU carriers increased their total revenues by 175 percent.

This data derives from two sources:

The GlobalComms Database, TeleGeography’s continuously updated online encyclopedia of broadband, wireline, and wireless telecommunications competition, subscribers, and revenue for 150+ countries and 920+ companies. More information and trial subscription information can be found at:

TeleGeography’s Wireless Operator Metrics Research Service, which tracks current and historical performance indicators for mobile operators in over 85 countries, serving more than 80 percent of the world’s mobile subscribers. More information can be obtained at: