What are the 10 most valuable telecoms brands on the planet?

7 Oct 2016

Telecoms brands play a vital role in our digital lives. But are they losing ground to savvy digital rivals. Image: Poliki/Shutterstock

If software is eating the world then social apps and OTTs are eating comms. What are the brands best positioned to lead the fight back?

The telecoms world is in a strange position. On the one hand, the entire world as we know it owes this digital revolution to the wires and wireless services that are the sinews and arteries of our connected existence in 2016.

Without the wires or the airwaves there would be no data, no social media, no smartphones, no YouTube and no WhatsApp.

It should be a time for triumph for the telecoms companies. It ought to be a time for heavy investment in future services.

And yet there is a serious cause for concern, with services like WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger and other services from over-the-top platforms players like Facebook and Google, who are using broadband as a conduit to displace traditional cash cows like SMS and voice calls.

Facebook has gone as far as predicting the demise of the telephone number.

These operators are watching revenues fall, while at the same time they need to prepare to invest in broadband rollouts and the deployment of 5G, the next generation of wireless.

So who are the operators best placed to lead the fight back and win customers once again through innovation?

Every year, brand consultancy Brand Finance puts thousands of the world’s top telcos through a tracking process, including over 500 operators.

It has found that Verizon is still the world’s most valuable telecoms brand. Valued at $63.1bn, they reached an important milestone after acquiring AOL, and an acquisition of Yahoo is looming.

Deutsche Telekom is Europe’s most valuable telecoms brand valued at $32.2bn.

Without further ado, here are the world’s top 10 most valuable telecoms brands:

1. Verizon

With a brand value of $63.1bn, up 5pc on last year, Verizon has an AAA+ rating. Verizon was born out of the rebranding of the Baby Bells in the mid 1990s and it is now the biggest mobile operator in the US, with 177,900 employees and revenues of $131bn in 2015. In recent months, Verizon agreed to acquire Irish tech company Fleetmatics for $2.4bn, to give it a lead in the area of IoT and connected vehicles.

2. AT&T

Given a brand value of $59.9bn, AT&T is the largest fixed and the second largest mobile network brand in the US, with 243,620 employees and revenues of $146.8bn in 2015. It was given an AA+ rating.

3. China Mobile

With a brand value of $49bn and an AAA+ rating, China Mobile is both state-owned by the Chinese government and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It has over 835m subscribers and revenues in excess of $100bn.

4. T (Deutsche Telekom)

Given a brand value of $33.1bn and an AA+ rating, Deutsche Telekom, or simply T as it is branded, was pivotal in the sale of EE to BT in 2014. The largest operator, and former state-owned telecoms monopoly in Germany, last year recorded revenues of €69.2bn. It employs over 226,000 people.

5. Vodafone

Headquartered in London, Vodafone is one of the largest and best-known global telecoms operators, with revenues of £40.9bn and some 107,667 employees. Assigned a brand value of $27.8bn, Vodafone gets an AA+ rating.

6. SoftBank

Japan’s biggest telecoms and internet operator received a brand value of $19.1bn and an AA rating. SoftBank employs 69,154 people and has revenues in the region of 9.15tn Yen.

7. Orange

A French multinational telecoms player, Orange employs 170,000 people – 105,000 of them in France – and it has 263m customer worldwide, with revenues of €40.2bn. Brand Finance gives it an AA+ rating based on a brand value of $19bn.

8. BT

A venerable telecoms institution with a proud heritage dating back to 1846 when it was established as the Electric Telegraph Company, BT or British Telecom is active in 180 countries worldwide and employs 102,500 people. It is the largest telecoms operator in the UK and its Openreach subsidiary controls the UK’s “last mile” copper infrastructure. Last year, it recorded revenues of £17.8bn and this year £24bn. Brand Finance gives it an AAA+ rating with a brand value of $18.4bn.

9. NTT

The third-largest telecoms company in the world in terms of revenues of 11.095tn Yen, NTT is a former government-owned monopoly with 241,593 employees. Brand Equity gives it a brand value of $18.1bn and an AA rating.

10. Xfinity

A new entrant to the top 10, Xfinity is the cable division of Comcast. Comcast Cable went from $23.7bn in revenue in 2007 to $48.1bn in 2013. Brand Finance gives it an AA+ rating with a brand value of $17.1bn.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years