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Western Europe's mobile phone market will stagnate at around the 300 million mark, says a new report.

According to UK telecoms consultancy Analysys, mobile subscriber numbers in Western Europe have grown by only three percent in the first six months of the year and this will reach just six percent by year-end. This is down from 17 percent growth in 2001 and 53 percent achieved in 2000.

Analysys said the dramatic slowdown was due to the fact that penetration rates have practically reached their ceiling. "Most people in Western Europe who want a mobile phone already have one," remarked Katrina Bond, lead author of the Analysys report on the subject.

However, she added that mobile operators are starting to see increases in the amount of revenue they are getting from each customer. Analysys forecasted that Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK (the countries it specifically examined) will all maintain their 2001 ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) levels this year.

This, said Bond, was because operators have managed to grow revenues in non-voice services. Analysys predicted that they will earn 13 percent of their income from non-voice services this year, compared to 8 percent in 2001 and 5.3 percent in 2000.

"This is a positive trend, but for it to continue, operators must succeed with the new messaging and entertainment services such as picture messaging and downloadable games that are being introduced now," commented Bond. She also said that operators must embrace wireless LAN services if they wanted to maximise future revenue streams.

© ENN

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