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Summary:

There are more than 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world, and new growth is coming from Asia and Latin America, according to data out on Thursday from Wireless Intelligence, which ranked the top 20 mobile operators by subscribers. U.S. carriers are way down the list.

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There are more than 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world, but the growth is coming from Asia and Latin America, according to data out on Thursday from Wireless Intelligence, the analyst arm of the GSM Association. The group reports that China Mobile has the highest number of subscribers with 616.8 million, followed by Vodafone and America Movil Group.

U.S. carrier Verizon doesn’t show up until lucky No. 13, and AT&T is at No. 16. However, despite their low standing in terms of the number of subscribers, both U.S. carriers are in the top five of the listed carriers when one tallies their revenue. However, the inability of those firms to continue growing through new subscribers means we’re likely to see them enter new markets (hence the race to embrace machine-to-machine connections) and perhaps lower their prices and try to score exclusives on hot devices to steal away market share.

One would expect things to get a lot more cutthroat, except that the American mobile phone buyer tends to expect a subsidy, which locks him or her into a two-year contract. Those contracts will keep churn lower and prices higher despite the fight for growth. It’s almost as if the industry were fighting a battle for growth while trapped in syrup. Every move will take a year or two to have real results.

  1. If I am not wrong, they forgot Orange (the 1st French operator), which has 162 million customers all over the world, as of today.
    I can’t believe they forgot, it would be very amateur, so does someone know why?

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    1. The ranking methodology only includes majority owned markets which significantly impacts France Telecom-Orange due to its minority holdings in a number of markets. Further details are available here http://www.wirelessintelligence.com/analysis/2011/10/new-scoreboard-ranks-top-20-global-operator-groups-by-mobile-connections/

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  2. The part that really got to me, was when you said that Verizon, and at&t were among the top 5 in the world based on revenue… Which means the subscriber to price ratio is all out of wack. WE NEED MORE COMPETITION, and it really doesn’t surprise me.

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    1. spot on! And why is that? Because they operate largely unregulated.

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  3. Meet the top 20 mobile operators http://t.co/otBRQsxN via Stacey Higginbotham

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  4. Mildly entertaining is that Tracfone’s mothership company America Movil,is sitting third, and way ahead of any of the US’ carriers. What’s disconcerting is that AT&T have large amounts of money invested in America Movil – as far as the anti trust interests of the country is concerned. On the flip side, that bodes really well for the budget minded people using tracfone.

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  5. Top 20 mobile operators http://t.co/6TDdfrjV, cool info, you agree?

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