Italy has become the cheapest country for postpaid mobile services in Western Europe, following the launch of Iliad there as the fourth operator, according to the latest research by Telecompaper.
The market researcher’s annual comparison of mobile prices across 16 European countries also shows that in most countries operators are including more and more data in their postpaid Sim-only plans, without a major increase in prices.
The study looks at the total cost of mobile plans (TCO), both with and without a high-end smartphone, and compares the lowest and median prices on offer, after correcting for purchasing power parity (PPP). Italy was the only country with cheap prices in all comparisons, while Denmark, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK fall into the range of mostly cheap countries, as their median TCOs fall below the median of the 16 countries in most categories of plan. Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are mostly expensive countries, with Greece the only country to show TCOs above the median of the 16 countries in all four comparisons.
Less choice, more data
In several countries the choice for consumers was limited further in the past year, with fewer plans on offer. In Austria and Italy, consumers can choose from just three ranges of Sim-only plans, and in Ireland there were only two ranges available. At the same time, the number of plans with higher volumes of data included continues to increase, with over 60 percent now including at least 5GB, up from around 50 percent last year.
“There are more and more plans available with large amounts of data, including unlimited offers appearing in several countries. However, the increase in data has not translated into major price increases in most countries, and we expect operators will continue to struggle to charge more for the growing data demand,” said Marion ter Welle, co-author of the report and senior research analyst at Telecompaper.
Looking at one of the most common plans across the 16 European countries, of 1,000+ minutes and more than 10GB+ per month on Sim-only, the research showed a drop in the median total cost per month to EUR PPP 29 in Q1 2019, compared to EUR 36 in Q1 2018. Italy was the cheapest country in this range, with a median TCO of EUR 15, switching places with Denmark, which led the survey last year. Denmark closely followed Italy with a TCO for this combination of EUR 16. Other cheap countries were France, Austria, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands and the UK. The Netherlands showed an annual drop of 19 percent, reaching a TCO of EUR 25, well below the TP16 median.
France leads in FMC offers
Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) is becoming a common strategy for operators in many European countries. The main reasons for offering packages bundling both fixed and mobile services include reducing churn, increasing market share and growing average revenue per household. Since last year Telecompaper has included an analysis of FMC offers in its research on mobile plans. This shows France has the highest share of mobile plans with FMC advantages, followed by Switzerland and Austria. In contrast, still no operators in Norway and Finland offered FMC advantages on Sim-only mobile postpaid plans.
In the majority of plans, the FMC advantage was a mobile benefit, namely in 65 percent of all the plans with a FMC advantage, up from 42 percent last year. “While our analysis is skewed somewhat due to covering only the mobile perspective, the emphasis on mobile discounts suggests that limiting mobile churn and gaining market share are greater concerns for operators offering FMC advantages than boosting mobile ARPU,” said Telecompaper analyst Marion ter Welle.