BMI View: Norway's telecoms markets is one of the highest value markets in the world on a per capita basis, and furthermore it is one of the most technologically developed with high prevalence of wireless data services, smartphones and value-added services. However, while Norway's high income levels support high ARPUs, operators are nonetheless under similar pressures to their peers across Europe. The regulator, the NPT, has implemented cuts to mobile termination rates that continue into 2013 and have squeezed operator revenues - while the threat of consumer IP substitution also looms. The market therefore has a bright outlook but with a number of significant threats, if less amplified than in much of the rest of Europe.
- Mobile subscription growth has remained robust to September 2012, at 3.3% y-o-y.
- We made a minor downgrade to the fixed-line forecast on the basis of the latest regulatory data from the NPT showing a y-o-y decline of 7.6% to the end of June 2012.
- Norway fell one position to fifth in the Western Europe Risk/Reward Ratings; however, it continues to score above the regional average in each of the categories measured by BMI.
Key Trends And Developments
In December 2012 leading mobile operator and incumbent Telenor became the first operator to make 4G LTE services available to mobile handsets. Telenor will provide services using 'automatic solution' where subscribers receive voice services over the 3G network and data services over the LTE network. The opening of LTE networks to handsets is expected to boost uptake of 4G wireless data service subscriptions, particularly as the development has occurred alongside the arrival of an increasing number of LTE enabled handsets. Given this potential demand growth it is not surprising that operators have announced further investments in 4G LTE network infrastructure in recent months, including Telenor's investment in microwave backhaul solutions from Huawei to serve remote communities.
Telenor's main rival in Norway, TeliaSonera, announced it has agreed to sell its broadband operations and will now focus on mobile services. In December 2012 TeliaSonera announced it agreed to sell is wireline broadband subsidiary NextGenTel to Telio for NOK601mn (US$108mn). Telio will pay NOK531mn upon the closing of the transaction, with a further NOK70mn provided in the form of Telio shares. The deal is subject to regulatory approval. TeliaSonera has been looking to sell to unit since May 2012, with early reports stating it hoped to receive SEK1.5bn (US$139mn). The acquisition will create a stronger player to challenge Telenor by consolidating NextGenTel's share of the DSL market with Telio's high capacity fibre business - which BMI believes will strengthen competition in the market.