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Wireless Subs Surge, but Margins Decline

A Flood of Low-Spending Users Dilute Profit Margins -- "The latest quarterly Strategy Analytics wireless operator benchmarking study indicates potentially serious global operator profit slides, as global margins fell below 40 percent for the first time in eight quarters. While subscriber volumes rose by 24 percent, year on year EBITDA was up by less than 4 percent, resulting in a 15 percent decline in average margins per user (AMPU). Globally, AMPU among the operators fell by 15 percent over the previous year, to a low of $11.54 in Q4 2004, from 2003's $15-plus figure. The heaviest declines were in Central & Eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific, both regions where exceptionally high subscriber growth among lower-value customers has outstripped profitability. Even more mature markets have not been immune to AMPU declines, with 3 percent declines in North America and Western Europe as competitive pressures and, in the case of Europe, regulatory interconnect rate cuts, left their mark."

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