Orange overtakes Vodafone in Spain

A year ago Vodafone could count over 750,000 more mobile subscribers than Orange in Spain, but in July this year Orange nudged slightly ahead to take second place after market leader Movistar.

According to latest figures published by the Spanish Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC), which now incorporates the former telecoms regulator CMT, Orange Spain had 11,527,786 subscribers in July 2014, compared to Vodafone Spain's 11,503,500. Both operators were able to increase subscriber numbers compared to June, however.

Telefónica's Movistar remained in the lead with 16,424,473, mobile users but the former incumbent lost subscribers from the previous month, when it counted 16,463,062 subscribers. Compared to a year ago, Movistar has lost over a million mobile subscribers. Yoigo still lags in fourth place with 3,413,810 users, but managed to improve slightly on June as well as compared to a year previously.

Other virtual mobile operators also saw their subscriber numbers rise further in July: over the past 12 months, these competing operators have raised their overall subscriber numbers from just over 5.6 million to around 7.9 million.

Spain remains one of the toughest and most competitive markets in Europe after the country suffered a deep and lasting recession that persists to this day. To counter the effects of cancelled mobile phone contracts and the move to cheaper providers, the four leading operators have been forced to adopt new strategies that include a strong focus on combining mobile with fixed services in order to offer so-called quad-play packages (mobile plans + fixed voice/broadband/TV).

That strategy has also seen Vodafone buy cable operator Ono, while Orange recently launched a bid worth €3.4 billion ($4.4 billion) for fixed-line services provider Jazztel. Yoigo's parent TeliaSonera is also reviewing its options for the Spanish market: in July the Sweden-based company said its Spanish business remains sub-scale with a market share of around 7 per cent.

In terms of mobile data pricing, Movistar launched a new range of tariffs called 'Vive' that increased the inclusive data allowance to a maximum of 4 GB, although larger allowances are available from Orange (5 GB) and Vodafone (6 GB). Nonetheless, Movistar offers a competitive 1 GB plan under the Tuenti Movil brand at €7 a month for both contract and prepaid customers.

For more:
- see the data from CNMC

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