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Spain sees massive mobile subscriber declines

8 Mar 2013

Spain is home to one of the largest mobile markets in Europe. Although mobile penetration exceeded 100% as far back as 2005, subscribers continued to increase, peaking at 58.5 million at year-end 2011. Subscriber numbers have since declined to less than 54 million as the country’s economic downturn has residents tightening their belts and cutting unnecessary costs. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Spain lost 5.3 million mobile subscribers between YE 2011 and 2012.

Market leader Movistar, which accounts for 39% of Spanish mobile subscribers, and its closest rival Vodafone Spain both posted significant declines. Movistar’s subscriber numbers fell by 3.6 million; however, the operator attributed 2 million disconnections to a new, more conservative counting methodology. Even so, Movistar saw a decrease of 7%, or 1.6 million subscribers, while Vodafone Spain lost 2.2 million, or 13% of its subscribers.

“A number of factors, aside from the struggling economy, have played a role in operators’ declines,” said TeleGeography analyst Richard Faber. “Heightened competition, the decision to halt handset subsidies, the migration of subscribers to multi-device tariffs, and the shortening of the timeframe for mobile number portability to one day have all contributed.”

While the two market leaders have lost millions of subscribers, the country’s smaller mobile network operators, Orange Espana and Yoigo, have experienced fewer losses, and even subscriber gains. Orange’s subscriber base decreased by 0.5%, or 63,000, between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012. While Orange’s 25% market share is not far behind that of Vodafone, Yoigo remains much smaller. Despite a 22% increase in subscribers over the year, the company accounted for only 7% of Spanish mobile users in Q4 2012.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is the most complete source of data about the wireless, broadband, and fixed line telecom markets worldwide, covering 190 countries and more than 1,500 service providers.

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