28 Jan 2009

... and now for good news from.... Europe?

In the context of this global economic slowdown, is it very surprising that someone who is involved in delivering audiences of telecoms operator execs to paying sponsors from tech vendors has dedicated recent blog entries to digging out good news about new licenses and new network deployments? The good news I've found has come from emerging markets and a recurrent trend, which I reflected on earlier this week, has been MENA region-based groups taking advantage of the good deals on offer in the current climate.

Yesterday's Telecompaper newsletter, however, came with reasonably positive news from a telco whose footprint is largely confined to Europe. This concerns T-Mobile, whose CEO Hamid Akhavan has told the Netherlands-based news and research house that the cellco "has yet to see a direct impact on its results from the economic slowdown and expects to maintain its performance in 2009."

Akhavan told Telecompaper that the group "is focused on growing service revenues, while maintaining its profit margins [and that] growth will come from innovative services such as its mobile data service Web’n’walk and new data-driven phones such as Apple’s iPhone and the G1 Android handset." However, in contrast to the expansionist agenda of Middle Eastern telecoms groups, for T-Mobile International "mergers and acquisitions are not on the agenda at the moment, due to the high cost of capital, according to the CEO."

T-Mobile International is currently present in only one non-European market, the USA. In February 2008, the US operation extended its coverage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands via the acquisition of SunCom Wireless, an operator owith more than 1.1 million customers across these territories and the mainland US states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

In Europe, T-Mobile's expansion from its German base has largely been eastwards. Aside from Dutch and UK operations, the T-Mobile footprint has spread over time to Austia and into the former Warsaw Pact countries and parts of former Yugoslavia. Both with Informa Telecoms & Media and in other roles, I have been closely involved in setting up CEE region networking, discussion and exhibition events in the telecoms space. In doing so, over more than five years I have had watched a number of T-Mobile rebranding exercises in this territory.

While we have decided that a CEE-themed event is not longer an important element of the Com World Series, we continue to provide networking and discussion opportunities in this part of Europe, albeit in an online setting. Our thriving CEE Com LinkedIn group is a useful forum for finding new contacts in the region and joining them in useful discussions. If you do business in Central and Eastern Europe, I would urge you to join up.