Turkcell trumpets 'record' mobile ARPU growth in Q4

Turkcell appears to be one of the few telcos to have made a pretty good stab at turning itself into a digital services provider, attributing 2019 sales growth to strong ARPU performance that in turn was driven by technologies which "enable us to make the right offer to the right customer at the right time."

The Turkish operator reported an 18.1% year-on-year increase in revenue to 25.13 billion Turkish lira ($4.1 billion) in 2019, accompanied by an 18.6% rise in EBITDA to TRY10.42 billion ($1.7 billion) and a 60.6% increase in net income to TRY3.2 billion ($520 million). It said the revenue growth was on the back of the strong ARPU performance of Turkcell Turkey, with an increase in mobile blended ARPU (excluding machine-to-machine communications) of 17.7% to TRY42.6 ($7) in 2019. In the fourth quarter alone, mobile blended ARPU was said to have increased by a record 22.7% to TRY 45.9 ($7.50).

Murat Erkan, the CEO of Turkcell who took over from digitalization champion Kaan Terzioğlu in March 2019, said the "analysis of big data and use of AI with our advanced analytical capabilities enable us to make the right offer to the right customer at the right time. In our telecom business, which we manage with a micro-segment approach, we can diversify our offers and extend dynamic pricing." (See VEON names new bosses as CEO Burns steps aside.)

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Erkan affirmed that digital services remained "one of our strategic focus areas" and said BiP (instant messaging), fizy (music), TV+, Dergilik (digital publishing) and lifebox (storage) were the most preferred Turkcell applications in 2019. He provided an example of how artificial intelligence is being applied to enhance these products, noting that the telco began to use "AI-enabled personalized content on our Dergilik, fizy and TV+ platforms, while also entering into advertising collaborations."

Turkcell said it generated TRY1 billion ($160 million) in revenue from digital services on a standalone basis in 2019, and it aims to increase this 2.5 times over the next three years. Total subscriber numbers in Turkey stood at 35.7 million by the year end, of which the majority (20.4 million) were postpaid mobile subscribers. Prepaid mobile users declined to 12.4 million, while fixed-line fiber subscribers reached just under 1.5 million.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

James_B_Crawshaw 2/24/2020 | 3:35:20 PM
Accounting for inflation Without wishing to take anything away from Turkcell's digital successes it is worth noting that Turkey is a fairly high inflation economy. Inflation was around 16% in both 2018 and 2019. Not as bad as the early 2000s (c. 50%) but not as good as the early 2010s (c. 8%). 

So 18% revenue growth in 2019 is about 3% in real terms. To put it another way, the lira was worth 15% less in dollar terms in 2019 on average than it was the year before. So translating Turkcell's revenue for 2018 and 2019 into US dollars, the revenue growth in USD was around 0% in 2019 (0.85*1.18). 
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