Research: EMEA telcos look beyond traditional services

May 17, 2023


Spending on telecom services and pay-TV services in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) increased by 2.4  %year on year in 2022, reaching USD 449 billion (EUR 413 billion), according to the Worldwide Semiannual Telecom Services Tracker published by International Data Corporation (IDC).

IDC forecasts EMEA spending on telecom and pay-TV services will increase by 2.7 % this year and reach a total of
USD 461 billion. The latest forecast is slightly more optimistic compared to the version published in November 2022. IDC attributes this acceleration to the increase in tariffs of telecommunication services fuelled by inflation.

According to the latest IMF forecasts, inflation will continue for at least the next three years, which means that operators will continue to increase tariffs, clients will be paying more for services, and the total nominal value of the market will be growing at a faster pace. For these reasons, we have revised our forecast upward, not only for 2023, but for the entire first half of the forecast period.

In 2022, spending on telecom services in Europe increased by 1.1 % year on year. This relatively low level of growth was mainly the result of two factors: 1) the war in Ukraine and related economic sanctions imposed on Russia, the biggest market of the CEE subregion; and 2) significant slowdown of the major Western Europe (WE) economies due to the drastic growth of interest rates. On the other hand, telecom services spending in the MEA subregion posted healthy growth of 5 per cent, fuelled by the lower saturation of markets in the less-developed countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Telcos in Europe are expected to continue investing into advanced telecommunications technologies, despite current and forecast inflation. Telecom service providers hope that the migration to all-IP and new-generation access (NGA) broadband will help offset the decline in revenue from fixed and mobile voice services. They also expect 5G to unlock new opportunities by allowing massive machine-type and ultra-reliable low-latency communications.

European companies are also accelerating the pace of digitalisation and ‘software-isation’ of their business processes. They are creating new go-to-market strategies based on data and intelligence and new innovative business models based on telco-as-a-platform and co-creation within ecosystems.

“Telecom operators are completely transforming — from providers of traditional commodity-style services to modern full-stack technology suppliers,” says Kresimir Alic, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Telecom Services. “By doing so, they hope to become leaders of the digital revolution and acquire a central position in the new digitalised world.”