back to article Euro consumers have TOO MUCH choice – telco operators

Three or four market players is plenty, at least according to the GSMA, the association that represents nearly 800 mobile operators. At an event in Brussels this week, GSMA director Anne Bouverot said it was ridiculous that there were nearly 100 players in the EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five. In …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    "EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five"

    Have the asked the consumers?

    Thought not.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: "EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five"

      Maybe some US based comentards can tell us what it's like with four or five mobile 'players' for such a large region?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five"

        Yeah 4 or 5 is plenty of choice for all of the US, except most people I've spoken to have effectively said they have no choice, because their area isn't in a city they get signal from a single operator and that's about it, same with their phone, cable, TV etc. Limiting the market to 4 or 5 players effectively means no choice and many operators saying "Don't like our service? Fine go somewhere lse... OH WAIT YOU CAN'T!" followed by some kind of evil laughter.

        Although I agree 800 is probably a bit too many, but I imagine a large portion of those 800 are resellers, like giffgaff or tesco mobile etc.

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

          Re: "EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five"

          I think that the GSMA meant to say that CARRIERS do just fine in the U.S. with 4-5 competitors in the market. There are a few more if you just want personal/family service, but if you use your phone for business then you probably want AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five"

            "...but if you use your phone for business then you probably want AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile."

            Uh, not sure if you're in the U.S.A. like me, but those are the ONLY providers. I'm with "Ting" mobile right now, which actually operates off Sprint's network...see how that works? Check this out, even though I'm with Ting who is using Sprint (3rd party style), if Sprint decides to have a show down/dual with Verizon, then I feel that just the same as a OEM Sprint user. Even though my costs are a little lower in dollars, the percentage is still the same even though I'm with Ting. So a thousand names for only 4 operators

            And yes, I CANNOT use any other mobile service outside of those 4, and for "Land Line" inet, I'm stuck with Time Warner, because there is no other operators here. They literally lock them out, to lock you in! So I have 5 over priced services to choose from...hmm, I'm fucked.

            United States of Business.

            All that being said, if we really had 800, they surely would eat themselves eventually. But, I'd rather have 800 eating themselves than 5 eating me!

        2. micheal

          Re: "EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five"

          To see how this pans out, find the South Park episode about Cable Tv choices

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: "EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five"

        What Anon said.

        Merging usually means the customer it getting crewed.

        Just this year my 3rd tier phone company was bought by ATT. Customer service went immediately to shit.

  2. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Really... they are thinking oww 3 vs 4 has no noticeable effect on competition. No shit... they all know each other... You need a LOT of players to get decent competion.

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    There's some logic to this

    Operators argue that it could become impossible to remain viable if they are not able to pool resources with partners or rivals.

    which surely shows that the business models for many of the operators is flakey? They want to cherry-pick the lucrative parts of the market, while pushing the cost of the other parts onto "somebody else". It's the model used by most of the MVNOs, and they can't all get the cherries while leaving the uninteresting cake to someone else. Maybe 4 or 5 operators is too few, but is 800+ really practical?

  4. Christoph Silver badge

    Which model should we pick, the one that's running now or the one used in the USA?

    Well obviously it's the one used in the USA - they are such a shining model of consumer choice and strict limits on rapacious large companies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You forgot the /sarc tag.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: /sarc tag

        Really? I could feel the sarcasm. I didn't have to be told it was sarcastic.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: re: /sarc tag

          I know it's hard to believe theodore, but yes, the sarc tag is still required. There are still millions of people who would take your statement at face value.

          Still, I upvoted you.

  5. Ashton Black

    "Perfectly Well"

    Can they spell Oligopoly? The US Cell Phone Operator's market is given as an example of this on Wikipedia!

  6. The BigYin

    3 or 4? No

    Just look at the state of things in the USA. We don't want such a small number of operators, we need true competition.


    We need legislation to ensure that the networks are open to all comers and that it remains possible to a new player to enter should incumbents try to gouge customers.

  7. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Greedy Pigs .....

    .... in push for less snouts in trough shock.

    MMMM Bacon -------------------------------------------------------------- >

    You can bet that :

    a) the GSMA doesn't represent all those 800 players equally, if at all in some cases.

    b) That each of the 800 would consider themselves as being essential in a rationalised market.

  8. Triggerfish

    Monopoly system

    I've been dealing with plenty of US users of broadband both commercial and private over the past few month, always heard the broadband was bad due to monopolies, frankly its amazing how bad it is. We had companies who expected their broadband to go down if the weather was bad, not remote companies mind you, places in shopping malls in relatively large urban areas, less than 1Mbps connections etc..

  9. Stretch

    I'd quote this at them

    “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

    Adam Smith

  10. big_D Silver badge

    Is this the same USA

    that is always complaining about carrier lock-in, lack of handset choice on certain networks, SIM locked phones and large bills?

    Think I'll stay with my choice of hundreds, buying an unlocked phone and sticking in whichever damned SIM I bloody well want! And paying less than a tenner a month for the privilege.

  11. Detective Emil

    Room for efficiency

    I must admit that, whenever I go into a European mobile phone emporium — obviously as seldom as possible — and see the baroque workflow invoked for even the simplest operation, it seems to me that a) there's too much money in this game; and b) that efficiencies should be possible. But I don't think that reducing the number of operators is the way to obtain them. Probably rather the reverse: "We don't care, we don't have to…we're the phone company." (

  12. AceBitbucket

    So she thinks 'GSMA director Anne Bouverot said it was ridiculous that there were nearly 100 players in the EU market while the US does perfectly well with four or five.' Well, I have a plan. She needs to come over here and use the system until she screams in utter frustration. And, she needs to spend at least 7 hours per day with tech support. Beer? Beer helps, but not enough.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Truer in some countries than in others

    The tiny population of Lithuania, for example, has a choice of three operators. This limits the amount these operators can invest in new products and services. This is exacerbated by the cost base of the economy (earnings are low, compared to major players in Europe). With a population the size of the UK, France or Germany OTOH, the more competition the better.

    1. KroSha

      Re: Truer in some countries than in others

      Even the UK only has EE, Voda, Three & O2 and the subsidiaries thereof. Not that any of them would stitch up anyone to increase their slice of the market...

  14. DougS Silver badge

    The US reasonably has two players

    T-mobile's coverage and use of weird bands that are incompatible with everyone else makes them a non-starter unless you never venture out of large cities. Sprint's bizarre fascination with the wrong technology at every turn always leaves them investing in working around this missteps and playing catch-up with the big boys.

    There's really only AT&T and Verizon, and that's no choice because neither one wants to truly compete with the other. They're happy to keep prices high and rake in profits, and let Sprint, T-mobile and the little guys like US Cellular and regional carriers fight it out for the cheapskates.

    The reason why someone in the industry would look to the US as the model they want to emulate is they look at the prices we're paying AT&T and Verizon and they could only dream of raping you Euros in like manner!

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The US reasonably has two players


    2. fishman

      Re: The US reasonably has two players

      It's worse that that. While T Mobile may use weird bands, at least T Mobile and AT&T are GSM. And many phones cover all of their GSM bands. But Verizon and Sprint aren't GSM, so switching carriers can mean buying new phones.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anne of Idiots

    Wonder what she was fed and where was she wined and dined before farting from her mouth ?

  16. Slx

    Hmm... Correct EU response should be to launch an investigation into collusion.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Another one you mean? After the first one demonstrated price-fixing over roaming…

  17. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    Consolidation can boost investment in next generation mobile infrastructure and delivery of mobile broadband to rural areas.

    I think that originally read:

    Consolidation can boost our margins executive share options while continuing not to deliver mobile broadband to rural areas.

  18. Looper

    Anne Bouverot, director of GSMA should...

    ...STFU. And shove her expertise where the sun doesn't shine...

    She's effectively a shill for the big telcos pretending to be acting in the public interest.

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