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Fixed-mobile substitution is accelerating

As mobile voice services become increasingly affordable, they are rapidly substituting for fixed voice services across Western Europe, according to the report, Fixed-Mobile Substitution in Western Europe: causes and effects, written by Unwired Insight.

“Users are increasingly opting for the convenience and personalisation of mobile phones, even when a cheaper fixed phone is available,” says Dr Alastair Brydon, co-author of the report. “Despite falling fixed and mobile prices, overall spend on voice services is holding up well, as mobile users choose to make more expensive mobile calls instead of fixed calls.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Fixed-mobile substitution (FMS) is accelerating and could result in more than half of all voice traffic in Western Europe originating on mobile phones by the end of 2008. Mobile voice usage already far exceeds that level Austria, Finland and Portugal.
  • The extent of FMS varies widely between countries. The percentage of households that are mobile-only in Finland is five times greater than in Sweden. In early 2006 the proportion of total voice minutes that originated on mobile networks ranged from 18% to 70% across Western Europe.
  • The growing use of mobile phones has helped to increase overall voice traffic and maintain the level of spend on voice services in Western Europe.

“Our analysis shows definitively that the affordability of mobile voice calls is the key factor in the level of FMS in a particular country,”explains co-author Dr Mark Heath. “Once mobile pricing becomes affordable, there is little that fixed operators can do to halt traffic migration. However, some mobile operators have damaged their revenue by cutting prices too much. Very low pricing is not necessary and mobile operators can achieve significant traffic migration even with a healthy price premium over fixed services.”

The report quantifies the true scale of FMS in Western Europe, in terms of fixed-line substitution and the migration of voice minutes from fixed to mobile networks. The report considers a wide range of key metrics, such as the proportion of households that are mobile-only; the proportion of voice traffic originating on a mobile network; voice usage per capita; voice spend per capita; fixed and mobile voice spend per minute; and the price premium of mobile voice over fixed voice. The report assesses how these metrics have changed over a two-year period, to provide insight into the rate of FMS and its effects.

Unwired Insight was established in 2001 and provides expert advice on wireless technology, mobile networks, devices and standards, including GSM, GPRS, DECT, UMTS and LTE.

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