Why have telecom operators performed so badly over the last decade and what strategy do they need to adopt in order to remain relevant in the Digital World?
Telcos’ have consistently underperformed analyst and market expectations … their stock market recoveries after the 2000 crash and the 2007 crash were weak relative to the rest of TMT.
Their core revenues – voice, messaging and internet access – are now in terminal decline (or at least moving towards terminal decline).
Their future is tied to over-the-top services such as internet TV, mobile payments and cloud services.
Telcos remain the most over-regulated part of the internet value chain, so any super-normal profits they attempt to make from new technology cycles risk being capped by the regulator.
In order to survive, Telcos need to latch on to one of the many emerging technology cycles mentioned on page 19.
But they also need to change their business models:
- By moving towards software services
- By restructuring their businesses such that their new products are not regulated
- By consolidating to eliminate excess competition
SK Telecom is an example of how the move to software can raise shareholder returns.
BT’s ring-fencing of its regulated activity into Openreach is an example of the type of internal restructuring that can raise shareholder returns
AT&T and Verizon are living proof that industry consolidation will raise shareholder returns.