Top 20 mobile networks in the world: China tops, Bharti Airtel in top 5

Bharti Airtel is the only India-based operator to find a mention in the world top 5 club by subscribers and top 20 club by revenues. Bharti Airtel has 199.6 million subscribers across the world. China Mobile with 584 million subscribers and $19.9 billion in revenue is at the top position.

Revenues, however paint a different picture for Bharti. Despite having 199.6 million subscribers, Bharti’s revenues are $2.9 billion which placed it at 17th position just above SK Telecom, STC Group and Telenor Group. One reason for this could be Bharti’s huge presence in India. Bharti has more than 100 million subscribers in India alone and Indian market is notorious for low pricing for voice. On the data front, India is still getting used to the fact of always-connected and gearing up for 3G.

Bharti Airtel has seized up a potential opportunity in the 3G world, which should give a fillip to its earnings for 2011. There are 3 million 3G subscribers for Bharti already and it commands a 33% market share in 3G in India.

The top 20 list has 5 telecom companies which have operations in India – either directly or through a joint venture. Vodafone which is second in both revenues and subscribers has a huge presence in India and is the number two operator. NTT DoCoMo has a JV with Tata and operates as Tata DoCoMo. MTN and Telenor are the other two operators who also have India presence.

While number of subscribers is a good statistic to fall back on, it’s the revenue that matters. Verizon Wireless with 100 million subscribers gets $14.2 billion in revenues or five times of what Bharti gets. But Verizon has half of what Bharti has if we count the subscribers. Verizon Wireless makes a whopping $139 per subscriber in a year. Bharti Airtel makes a measly $14.50. Probably the lowest among the top 20. NTT DoCoMo makes $201 per subscriber. China Mobile with its mammoth subscriber counts makes $34 – much better than Bharti.

Bharti should improve its data offerings and bet big on 3G to climb up on the revenue ladder.

Top 20 Mobile networks in the world :

Via GigaOM