Friday, November 18, 2005

Ovum: Vodafone returns to India

Robin Hearn at Ovum comments on Vodafone's re-entry into the India mobile market via the acquisition of 10 percent of Bharti Tele-Ventures for £820 million (euro1,200 million). Bharti is the leading mobile operator in India with 14.1 million customers and a market share of 22%. In addition, Bharti operates fixed line service called Infotel, "which has over 1 million wireline and broadband customers, and also offers long distance and enterprise services."

According to Hearn, "the Indian mobile market is now looking good. Penetration is under 6% and recent growth has been both consistent and strong. The market adds over 5 million new users a quarter, and over 140 million new users will enter the market over the next five years."

Hearn notes that "competition for these new customers is already fierce, but as one of few national operators with an established brand, Bharti is very well placed to exploit this."

He also points out "as a pure-play GSM operator there are obvious benefits to be achieved by importing Vodafone's scale and scope, and no chance of suffering from the technology headache that Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless gives it." Hearn concludes that:

All-in-all this is a good move for Vodafone's global ambitions, and although there are still plenty of growth markets out there, picking those that will deliver true value is getting harder.