Asian mobile sector remains unaffected by crisis - Ovum

20 Nov 2008

Mobile operations have remained relatively unaffected by the current economic crisis, despite operators' assurances to the contrary in recent quarterly reports.

So says Ovum analyst Nathan Burley, who believes the effects of the crisis have yet to materialise.

"There are a few exceptions where macro-economic conditions caused weakness, but generally impact is still modest and yet to be significant," he says.

"Instead, the economic headwinds seem to be more of a convenient excuse for management at underperforming operators. In the same market, a poorly performing party may partly blame the economy while another states that the economy has had zero impact."

Which isn't to say the sector will be spared. Burley believes the effects of the crisis will cascade through the entire economy.

"But early signs are that mobile operators will be more resilient than most other telecommunications sectors and industries. Numerous operators have made comments to this effect," he says, adding that the full effects of the crisis won't be felt until 2009.

Operators which make large portions of their money overseas are exceptions - the effects of the crisis on exchange rates has certainly had an impact, Burley says.

"However, when currency changes are positive, surprisingly we hear less about it."

Meanwhile, a panel of operators have told investors that mobile operators are primed to reduce capex if the crisis hits operators as hard as worst-case scenarios predict.

Representatives from Vodafone, Millicom and TeliaSonera told investors at the Morgan Stanley Annual Technology, Media and Telecoms Conference that they were all in a position to cut back spending significantly, Reuters reports.

Vendors have been predicting sharp cutbacks in operator spending for some time, with Nokia announcing just last week it expected spending in both the mobile and fixed infrastructure markets to dwindle.

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