Format: Jun 2019
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
NTL Q1 2001 Results

NTL's quarterly results demonstrate an abrupt change of strategy. Customer acquisition has all but ceased. Increasing telecom prices is the new battle plan. This is sensible, but we question whether the potential revenue gains can do much for debt or equity holders. If UK customer numbers have peaked, even optimism about ARPU will not produce free cash flow. Our scepticism remains. NTL continues to raise money in huge volumes. But note that this quarter's capex (even after the end of the so-called network build-out) is still almost four times EBITDA because investment in providing new services has to continue (e.g. digital set-top boxes).

European handset sales have collapsed due to maturity of markets, lengthening replacement cycles and significant changes in operator marketing strategies.

Approximately 10-15% of European wireless users have multiple active SIMs; thus subscriber growth has actually been slower than reported and replacement cycles have been faster than perceived; this situation has now reversed in our opinion. The use of multiple active SIMs will diminish over time in our opinion, providing a further brake on sales.

Telecoms 19 May 2001
3G Infrastructure Sharing

The UK telecoms regulator, Oftel, has just (1st May) produced a briefing note that seems to encourage the idea of infrastructure sharing of third generation mobile networks. It defines 'infrastructure sharing' as including both physical sharing of sites, and also the sharing of capacity. The example Oftel gives is interesting. It says that two operators could divide up the country, one, say, building a network in Manchester, the other in Leeds. They could then allow free 'roaming' between the cities.

Our primary purpose is to provide revenue forecasts for the next three years. Our central forecast sees Retail revenues falling at percentage rates in the low single digits. Wholesale revenues are driven by different forces and will rise rapidly next year, and at a slower rate thereafter. The rise in Wholesale revenues will not be enough to stop a fall in overall income.



Telecoms, Mobile 18 May 2001
Mobile Market Trends and Forecasts for 2001/2

Our view is that mobile operator marketing strategy was the key determinant of the rate of apparent growth in mobile penetration across Europe in 2000. We use this report to show that operator 'push' was responsible for the increase in apparent subscribers. We examine the evidence on actual rates of ownership and usage in the three of the largest markets and show that underlying mobile penetration is probably around 60% of adults in these markets. Will the reduction in estimated levels of penetration, which the operators also acknowledge, mean continuing high growth rates in future? We think it unlikely. First of all, of course, operator 'push' is reducing. Second, ownership in key demographics, such as 15-24 year olds is already close to saturation. Third, those that do not own a mobile, particularly in the older age groups, appear relatively uninterested in the product.

Our pessimism derives from our view, firstly, that subscriber growth in NTL's UK cable franchises has all but ceased and, secondly, that further price rises will inevitably cause loss of subscribers as NTL's telephony and television offerings have already become uncompetitive. Broadband is important but will not generate significant amounts of extra revenue.



Telecoms, Mobile 18 May 2001
BSkyB Q3 2000 Results

In this report Chris Goodall carries out a brief analysis of Sky's results published today and compares them to our projections.

Our emphasis in this note is on ITV Digital. What are the options open to the two shareholders of ITV Digital, Carlton and Granada? How can they reduce the burden of supporting ITV Digital through the next few years? What is the likelihood (or otherwise) of substantial improvement in that company’s results, in particular break even in 2003?

  • Sky
Media, Telecoms 16 May 2001
Global Handset Market 2001

At the current CSFB tech conference in Barcelona Ericsson stated that the expected handset market for 2001 will now be at lower end of its previously stated range of 430-480m; both it & Nokia said the reason was cuts to handset subsidies in Europe. Whilst we are relieved that our early emphasis on the impact of changes in operator strategies on the handset market in Europe has been proved right, we are in the process of revising upwards our own forecast of 300-350 million units based on growth in China (this forecast and spreadsheet will shortly be available).

For the future, we expect data traffic to slow given strong signs of a plateau in demand among businesses and changing residential payment models. However, we forecast a gradual evolution towards profitable ISP business models based on unsubsidised pricing for all forms of access. Indeed, we expect overall pure Internet access revenues to continue to grow until the latter part of the decade. This is plainly contrary to all those who predicted access would be free for all and a loss-leader for other forms of revenue, such as online advertising, e-commerce commissions and eCRM (direct marketing).



Telecoms, Mobile 11 May 2001
May 2001 Survey Results from Oftel

Mobile Phone Users

Media 11 May 2001
Digital TV Update

We have published extensively on digital TV in the past 18 months, consistently casting doubt on the potential of TV-centric interactive platforms to (a) generate enough income for operators to repay hardware subsidies and (b) compete with the PC for home shopping activity (t-commerce).

We see a clear distinction between the relative success of Sky and the continued slow growth of ITVdigital and the real difficulties being experienced by cable operators. Sky is gaining business while the other operators are struggling to retain their share. This is the first of two notes. In the first (attached), Chris Goodall examines the financial prospects of Sky in advance of its results next week. Chris looks at what would be good or bad numbers for Sky's results in all the main categories, and suggests reasons for short-term optimism. In our next note, which will be sent out on Monday, I analyse ITVdigital and question whether anything can be done to improve its prospects. The launch of ITVsport does not help, with its huge programming budget and limited opportunities.

Media 8 May 2001
Pay-TV - When Will the Corner be Turned?

Chris Goodall has dissected the economics of the major pay-TV operators. He finds that if current trends continue, BSkyB, NTL and Telewest will not generate the cash to pay back their debt in the foreseeable future. In the case of the cable companies this leaves the debt holders exposed. Equity holders should be concerned about further dilution from future debt to equity conversion.

Media 5 May 2001
ITV Licence Renewals

This note considers the so-called 'digital dividend' in light of the recent ITV licence renewals.

The UK online population reached 17 million in February 2001, up around one-quarter on the year, on the strength of rising participation of women (to 44% of users) and of young people. We expect 4 million users to be added to the online population by February 2002, to reach 21 million, with growth at a lower rate than in 2000.

  • ITV
Media 15 April 2001
European B2C E-Commerce Update

This report updates our July 2000 report on European B2C e-commerce, with a special focus on the UK market.

We estimate that global net adds were 48m in Q2, down from 58m in Q1 2001. The total net adds so far this year of 106m is 53% of our full year forecast of 201m for these territories, which supports our forecast of 375 million units shipped given that net adds will likely continue to decline in Q3 followed by the seasonally strong Q4.

Media 9 April 2001

The UK online market is among the most mature in Europe: while strong growth continued during 2000 (60% increase in home users), this was less dramatic than in Germany and France.

Fixed Line 5 April 2001
Microsoft .NET - The Oil Tanker Turns

Microsoft has never made much impact on the Internet. As a result, we still have a proliferation of standards and competing suppliers of the underlying technology, of which the most obvious is Java. Almost all the new generation of Internet access devices, such as phones, PDAs and TVs, all use underlying software that does not work well with Microsoft technology. Genuine interoperability is not yet available.

The key points we make are as follows:

Media 15 March 2001
Microsoft: Will the Giant Engulf the Mobile Phone Industry?

The purpose of this report is to look in more detail at the actual capital expenditures that 3G operators can be expected to make. We show that costs will be very much lower than expected. This is because most operators will be able to offer a good service to large numbers of customers by installing relatively few base stations. This is excellent news for operators, but infrastructure vendors such as Ericsson and Nokia will see much lower volumes of equipment orders than most analysts are projecting. The evidence for our conclusions is derived both from an analysis of actual 3G infrastructure orders and from an analysis of theoretical capacity.

Media, Telecoms 15 March 2001
Wireless - Current Ideas and Issues

We see European handset shipments down from 140-150 million in 2000 to 100 million in each of the next two years.

Telecoms 5 March 2001
Sonera Smart Trust

20 February 2001
The Digital Bomb?

By contrast, NTTDoCoMo is putting its money firmly behind mobile data. Its investment plans in Japan provide capacity for huge amounts of data transmission. Three years from now, NTTDoCoMo will have invested, it says, 1 trillion yen (10bn Euros, if our maths is correct) in obtaining 6 million 3G customers. This investment, it says, will be enough to handle over 15m subscribers and provide coverage of 97% of the population. The major services it mentions as needing 3G bandwidth are music downloads and 'image clipping'.

15 February 2001
Gambling and Gaming on TV

Oftel appears to believe that such an arrangement would be acceptable if it 'allowed the delivery of 3G services earlier and at lower prices' than would otherwise be the case. It notes that the 3G licences do not ‘a priori exclude infrastructure sharing’ and that some forms of sharing, e.g. masts, are positively encouraged.

5 February 2001

15 January 2001
The Orange Prospectus

The Orange Prospectus

We have forecast that the increase in the number of users during the whole of 2001 will be as follows

  • Orange
10 January 2001
Broadband Update

Broadband update document.

9 January 2001