Telecom operators may complain a lot, it is rare to see a decline in their income. This is the case at the end of 2018, as the Arcep figures show us.
The problems of the operators are numerous and well documented. They often complain about the drop in revenue generated by the mobile following the appearance of Free, deployment costs of new technologies such as 5G, or even net neutrality.
Yet, there are few times when there is a decline in income. At the end of 2018, this was indeed the case: the observatory of Arcep, which notes the variations in revenues of French operators, is responsible for showing us.
Revenue down for operators in 2018
2018 will not have been a particularly strong year on the market, and that is noticeable. There is a general decrease in revenue generated compared to the quarter of the previous year. 8.9 billion euros excluding taxes were generated, a decrease of 1.3%.
This decrease is mainly due to fixed service revenues over the half-year, down 1.7%. Subsidiary revenues, including, but not limited to, the sale of mobile phones, also decreased to € 814 million, or -2.8%.
It should also be noted that value-added services (including services included in packages) continue to decline, down to -16.4% this year. It's been six years since that's the case.
The ever more popular optical fiber
The Observatory of Arcep allows us to see a natural technological evolution. If subscriptions to broadband – mainly in VDSL but also ADSL – are falling (-1.2 million in one year, two times less than in 2017), they are naturally replaced by very high speed access that they are in growth (+1.9 million in one year).
In particular, it should be noted that end-to-end optical fiber is more and more adopted: 4.3 million subscribers are registered, or +1,4 million in one year. This represents 15% of active internet connections in France.
Very high speed subscriptions (including fiber, coax, VDSL2, 4G box etc.) now represent one in three subscriptions out of a total of 28.9 million. The expansion continues, but is not total: 44% of housing eligible for very high speed have an active subscription, leaving still 66% opportunity missed.
Mobile plans without commitment are kings
On the mobile, the packages are always more popular … but consumers prefer non-binding packages. These represent 7 out of ten packages, +3 points in one year. 75.5 million SIM cards are in use, including 66 million packages.
Linked numbers are always more guarded. The portability of the number reached its highest historical figure with more than 2 million recorded for the fourth consecutive semester.
The share of users using 4G networks continues to grow slowly (+7.5 million over the quarter), with an average data consumption of 6.8 GB per month. Roaming, made simpler and cheaper in the European Union, continues to increase sharply to + 69% in one year.
Finally, it should be noted that the less recent technologies such as SMS – which has to be replaced by the RCS in the long term – continue to fall. The number of text messages sent is reduced again to 42.6 billion, a loss of 5% in one year. Voice calls to fixed and mobile also suffer a loss of 1% in one year.