The top 20 service providers recorded less than 2% growth in aggregated annual revenues during 2009, despite healthy global net adds.
TeleGeography research said most of the growth for the world’s largest operators last year was a result of M&A, even though the global mobile subscriber base grew 15%, and broadband subs by 14%.
That’s because the global figures mask slowdowns in key wireless markets. For example, subscriber growth in Western Europe was negligible, with Eastern Europe faring little better, TeleGeography said.
By comparison, the APAC region generated almost two-thirds of net adds.
The research firm predicts that global wireless subscriber additions will approach 6 billion by the end of 2011.
TeleGeography said broadband may be reaching a short-term market ceiling – although there are still likely to be nearly 600 million fixed broadband subscribers by the end of next year.
“While wireless prices tumble and come within reach of many poorer populations, broadband remains a luxury that is well beyond the reach of most,” TeleGeography analyst John Dinsdale said.