MADRID May 21 More than half a million
Spaniards switched mobile phone operator in March to take
advantage of the cheap deals on offer from competitors, with the
market's main players Telefonica and Vodafone
the biggest losers.
In the first three months of the year more than 1.8 million
consumers moved to another mobile company, data from telecoms
regulator CMT showed on Tuesday.
Orange, Yoigo and virtual networks, which
rent capacity from established players, have stolen a march on
the market leaders by appealing to consumers in search of
savings as recession in Spain drags on and unemployment reaches
27 percent. The data showed 581,860 customers switched provider
in March, the second-highest number of record.
Incumbent Telefonica's market share fell to 35.6 percent in
March from 38.6 percent a year before, while Vodafone's shrank
to 25.7 percent from 28.6 percent. Virtual operators now account
for over 10 percent of the market, compared to 7 percent a year
Vodafone, the world's second biggest operator, has taken
total writedowns for Spain and Italy of 7.7 billion pounds
($11.7 billion) this year owing to tough conditions in the
Fixed line specialists like Jazztel have also won
market share with conversion offers that include virtual mobile
CMT said the total net number of mobile lines in the country
fell by 312,674 in March, with Vodafone shedding 297,870
connections and Telefonica dropping 247,570 connections.
There was better news for Telefonica in broadband, where it
attracted 11,490 new clients. Cable operators lost just over
2,000 customers and other providers gained 33,890 new clients.