European SIM-only mobile prices slightly lower in Q1 2018, as FMC becomes important factor in pricing strategy

Houten, The Netherlands, 29 May 2018 - The costs of a mobile SIM-only plan have generally come down in most countries in Western Europe in the past year, according to the latest research by Telecompaper. The annual comparison of mobile prices across 16 countries also shows that in most countries operators are including more and more data in postpaid Sim-only plans, without a major increase in prices. In the survey of more than 1,400 plans available on the market, the Telecompaper Q1 2018 EU Benchmark report found that Denmark remains the cheapest place for a mobile plan in all comparisons with Greece and Portugal the most expensive.

The study looks at the total cost of mobile plans (TCO), both with and without a high-end smartphone, and compares the lowest and median prices on offer, after correcting for purchasing power parity (PPP). Denmark was the only country with cheap prices in all comparisons, while France, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK fall into the range of mostly cheap countries, as their median TCOs fall below the median of the 16 countries in most categories. In contrast, Greece and Portugal remain the two most expensive countries.

Sim-only cheaper in most EU-countries
Looking at one of the most common plans across the 16 countries, of 1,000+ minutes and more than 10GB+ per month on Sim-only, the research showed a drop to a median total cost per month of EUR 36 in Q1 2018, compared to EUR 43 in Q1 2017. Denmark was the cheapest country in this range, with a median TCO of EUR 15, taking the top position from Italy last year. Italy remained one of the cheaper countries for this combination (EUR 23) as did France, the UK and Finland. The Netherlands also showed an annual drop (-14%), reaching a TCO of EUR 31, well below the TP16 median.

More large data plans
“There are more and more plans available with large amounts of data, including unlimited offers appearing in several countries. However, the increase in data has not translated into major price increases in most countries, and we expect operators will continue to struggle to charge more for the growing data demand,” said Alejandra van de Roer, co-author of the report and senior research analyst at Telecompaper.

Greece still had the highest median TCO (EUR 288), with just one plan in this range, and its TCO even increased 18 percent compared to Q1 2017 after the Greek operators starting to include the extra mobile telephony subscriber fee, which was previously excluded from the monthly fee. The next highest country was also the same, with Portugal at a TCO of EUR 83 (+19% compared to Q1 2017).

Fixed-mobileconvergence becoming important part of pricing

FMC common strategy
In several European countries fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) is becoming a common strategy for operators. The main reasons for offering FMC packages include reducing churn, increasing market share and growing average revenue per household. For the first time Telecompaper has included an analysis of fixed-mobile convergence in its research on mobile plans.

Our analysis shows that there are significant differences across our 16 European countries; far from all have embraced the FMC trend. France had the highest share of plans with FMC, followed by Belgium and Portugal. In contrast, no operators in Norway and Finland offered FMC advantages on Sim-only mobile postpaid plans.

In the majority of plans, the FMC advantage was a mobile benefit, namely in 42 percent of all the plans with a FMC advantage. “We expect the number of plans with a fixed-mobile advantage to grow in the upcoming years, which could have an effect on mobile pricing,” said Marion ter Welle, co-author of the report and senior research analyst at Telecompaper.

The analysis in the Q1 2018 EU Benchmark reportis based on available subscription plans from all MNOs in the 16 European countries and most of the MNO-owned sub-brands. All in all, this led us to compare 1,433 plans from 71 operators in 16 countries.

Comparing the total cost of ownership (TCO) is central to our approach, in order to include all elements constituting the cost of consumer communications. The (hidden) cost of a handset is among the most important aspects that need to be included in the TCO. In this edition we have focused on one type of handset, a top-range smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S8), as well as the Sim-only plans. The TCO also incorporates all monthly subscription or connection costs, promotional discounts and corrections for differences in purchasing power across the 16 countries. In addition to the median TCO, the report also analyses the lowest available price plans.

Note to editors
The report provides a detailed comparison of mobile pricing across Europe. To allow readers a closer look at the data, our pricing database is available for purchase separately. The 'EU Benchmark Q1 2018' report provides data and analysis of the high-end smartphone and Sim-only choices. The full report is available for business users for EUR 4,900. Corporate users pay EUR 6,900, which includes the pricing database and plan details.