The world’s top 10 telecommunications companies each have a market value of more than $50 billion. Servicing the world’s ever-growing telephone and wireless connection needs, the telecommunications industry is forecast to continue to expand operations on a global level. More individuals in emerging markets are signing up for telephone and Internet contracts, while new telecommunications technologies in developed nations are expanding providers' pre-existing customer bases.
While several company attributes can distinguish the Big Ten, market value serves as the determining factor for this list.
1) China Mobile Ltd.
China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), the leading provider (by number of subscribers) of telecommunications services in China – it has approximately 849 million customers – is the top telecommunications company in the world. It has a market value of $215.3 billion as of April 2017, and between January and December 2016 its customer base grew by 2.5%.
2) Verizon Communications Inc.
Verizon Communications, Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is the largest telecommunications company in the United States. Its market value is estimated at $191.72 billion as of April 2017, and its sales weigh in at $131.8 billion. Formed in 2000 with headquarters in New York City, Verizon resulted from a merger between Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. In 2015, Verizon completed its acquisition of AOL. The sale came after a 2014 purchase by Verizon of Vodafone’s 45% interest stake in Verizon stock. Verizon currently operates in 150 countries.
3) AT&T Inc.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is the second-largest telecommunications company in the United States, with a market value of $245.58 billion. AT&T provides voice services in more than 200 countries and operates more than 34,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. According to its website, AT&T covers more than 355 million people. It recently expanded its AT&T GigaPower, an ultra-fast Internet service, to 56 metropolitan locations in the United States, with plans for further expansion. In 2006, AT&T acquired BellSouth. It purchased DirecTV in May 2014 for $48.5 billion, which allowed the company to offer customers the option to bundle more services into the same package.
4) Vodafone Group plc
Vodafone Group plc’s (NASDAQ: VOD) headquarters are in the United Kingdom, and the company services around 444 million mobile customers. Vodafone’s market value is $68.41 billion as of April 2016. From 2012 to 2014, Vodafone acquired three companies: Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Kabel Deutschland, and Ono. The company’s Standard & Poor's long-term credit rating is A-. Mobile in-bundle sales account for 42% of Vodafone’s group service revenue, while 27% of revenue comes from mobile out-of-bundle sales. Vodafone is the most valuable brand in the United Kingdom and hosts mobile operations in 26 countries.
5) Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation
Founded in Japan where fast Internet connections are plentiful, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (NYSE: NTT) has a market value of $86.13 billion as of April 2017. Fiber connections are highly valued in Japan, and Japanese companies are known to spend heavily to attain the newest Internet technology. This environment has helped boost Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation’s prevalence. Unlike other telecommunications companies, Nippon derives much of its business from fiber Internet connections rather than bundle packages. Increasingly, the company is looking to sales of its cloud computing services to expand its customer base.
6) Softbank Group Corp.
Softbank Group Corp. started in 1981 as a packaged software distributor, and has since created a domestic telecommunications segment that services Japan’s mobile communication, device, and broadband needs. The company’s market value is $81,459.54 million. Softbank owns an 80% stake in U.S. phone services provider Sprint in addition to managing Yahoo! Japan. In 2015, Softbank purchased IBM’s licensing for its robot "Watson" to create a Japanese Android called "Pepper," with plans to sell the robot to retail customers. Softbank announced the robot could read human emotions. The first 1,000 units of Pepper robots sold out in November 2015. In April 2017 rumors surfaced again of Softbank merging with T-Mobile, Inc. (TMUS).
7) Deutsche Telekom AG
Deutsche Telekom AG services more than 100 million mobile customers with a presence in over 50 countries and 218,341 employees. The German company has a market value of $76.11 billion, and more than half of its revenue is generated outside of Germany. Telekom seeks to build efficient networks that meet future broadband needs.In 2013, Telekom became the first telecommunications company to present a smartphone with the Firefox OS. In 2015, the company launched a standardized European network, implementing a cross-border infrastructure development in three of 10 countries.
8) Telefonica S.A.
Telefonica S.A. (NYSE: TEF) originates from Spain. It serves 21 countries with its customer base largely concentrated in Latin America. Telefonica’s market value is $52.84 billion, and its products and services include cloud computing, mobility services, data centers, enterprise voice and security services.
Telefonica markets its three primary brands with different target audiences: Movistar serves Spain and Latin America; O2 serves the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia; and VIVO serves Brazil. Over the past two years, Telefonica has focused on investment as a means of expanding the business. The company also runs several smaller specialist brands, including Wayra, a startup accelerator.
9) America Movil
Mexican company America Movil (NASDAQ: AMOV) serves 363.5 million access lines, including 280.6 million mobile subscribers worldwide. Total coverage of America Movil’s mobile, fixed lines, broadband and television services is expansive. It has a market value of $49.385 billion; however, this is a much lower value than in previous years, as the company battles a series of anti-conglomerate rules aimed at dismantling its telecommunications monopoly.
Most recently, in April 2017, Mexico's telecommunications regulator put America Movil on notice to legally separate its Telmex fixed-line infrastructures division from its cellular division; the move was expected to be done by early 2018.
10) China Telecom
China Telecom is a state-owned company that provides fixed-line telephone services to 194 million customers. According to it its website, by the end of 2016, its mobile services reached 62.36 million customers, and broadband reached 113 million. The company’s market value is $309.16 billion. The company headquarters are located in Beijing. Holding company China Telecom Corporation Limited (NYSE: CHA) experienced a public offering in 2002 in Hong Kong and New York City. China Telecom’s second holding company, China Communications Services Corporation Limited, launched its Hong Kong IPO in 2006. China Telecom’s commercial brands include E-surfing, E-surfing Navigator, E-surfing E Home and E-surfing Flying Young.