Emerging Markets Become a Force of Telecom Innovation as Growth Drives Innovation

Between 1995 and 2010, mobile’s share of the global telecom revenue pie increased from 14% to 63%. In 1995 mobile revenues from emerging markets represented 2% of global telecom revenues, by 2010 it was 28%.  In 1995, only 15% of the world’s mobile subscribers were in developing markets. By the end of 2010, 79% of the world’s subscribers were in emerging markets. Emerging countries have been, and will continue to be the engine of growth in the global telecom market, and growth drives innovation.  Some of the examples of innovation from emerging markets include:

  • In 2000, SMART was one of the world’s first operators to introduce a remittance (SMART Padala) and micro-payment (SMART Money) service aimed at the low income market.  The service nearly doubled the addressable customers base, created higher ARPU (Average Revenue per User) by 20% and reduced airtime recharge commission costs by >50%.  Since then we’ve seen many players jump on this $1T opportunity, including developed markets.
  • In 2004 Bharti announced with IBM a 10 year $3B contract to outsource its network, going further than any operator had done in the past.  And as we’ve seen network and operations outsourcing has become an unstoppable trend
  • In 2004 Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s dominant mobile operator representing over 70% of the mobile market, used customer behavior to drive network roll-out achieving savings of over 80% compared to more traditional deployment planning methods.
  • In 2006, Tigo in Tanzania introduced freelance sales people, that is street smart agents to sell prepaid recharge, trebling sales to the targeted segments.
  • Recognized in 2008 by AfricaCom as the “Most Innovative new service of the Year” MTN’s dynamic discount using cell broadcast to make offers for call when the network is lightly loaded, increasing revenue in targeted segments by over 30%.

On the supply-side Huawei and ZTE are now making more patent applications than the rest of the network equipment suppliers combined.  The developed markets need to “pull their socks up”, stop complaining about how hard business is, and start innovating like the developing market!  Else be left behind.