The world’s top ten telecommunications companies each have a market capitalization of more than $40 billion. The telecommunications industry is forecasted to continue expanding its operations globally, servicing the world’s ever-growing telephone and Internet service needs. More individuals in emerging markets are signing up for telephone and Internet contracts, while new telecommunications technologies in developed nations are expanding their existing customer bases.

Key Takeaways

  • The world’s top ten telecommunications companies each have a market capitalization of more than $40 billion; market value serves as the determining factor for this list.
  • After its acquisition of Time Warner in June 2018 for $78.3 million, AT&T experienced a boost in assets, profits, and market value in 2019, becoming the global powerhouse in the telecommunications industry.

While there are several company attributes that distinguish these ten companies from other telecommunications companies, market value serves as the determining factor for this list. However, the value and performance of these companies will likely change over time.

AT&T

AT&T Inc. (T) has a market capitalization of $260.38 billion, as of March 4, 2020. AT&T provides voice services in more than 200 countries, operates more than 34,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, and delivers content to audiences in over 175 countries. In June 2018, AT&T paid $86 billion to acquire Time Warner, making it the largest communications company in the world by revenue. In 2017, the company expanded AT&T GigaPower, an ultra-fast Internet service, to 56 metropolitan locations in the United States, with plans for further expansion. AT&T purchased DirecTV in July 2015 for $48.5 billion, which allowed the company to offer customers the option to bundle more services into the same package. In 2006, AT&T acquired BellSouth for approximately $86 billion.

China Mobile

China Mobile Ltd. (CHL) is the leading provider of telecommunications services in China based on the number of subscribers. The company had more than 949 million mobile customers in January 2020 and they provide 188 million people with wireline broadband services. The firm's market capitalization is $164.21 billion, as of March 4, 2020.

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) has a market capitalization of $230.37 billion, as of March 4, 2020. Its reported revenue in 2019 was $131.86 billion. Verizon's network and services are available in more than 150 countries. Founded in 2000, with headquarters in New York City, Verizon was formed as a result of 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.

Vodafone

Vodafone Group Plc’s (VOD) headquarters are in the United Kingdom. In September 2019, the company had 625 million mobile customers, 27 million fixed broadband customers, and 22 million television customers. Vodafone has a market capitalization of $45.19 billion, as of March 4, 2020. From 2012 to 2014, Vodafone acquired three companies: Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Kabel Deutschland, and Ono.

Nippon Telegraph & Tel

Founded in Japan, the market capitalization of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (NTT) is $88.46 billion, as of March 4, 2020. Originally a state-owned company, the business was privatized in 1985, although the government still owns one-third of the company's shares. Unlike other telecommunications companies, Nippon derives much of its business from fiber Internet connections, rather than bundle packages. In 2019, the company launched a global presence with NTT Ltd., based in London, which offers a wide range of technology services.

Softbank

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 capitalization is $99.35 billion, as of March 4, 2020. In early 2019, Softbank expanded its holdings in the U.S. phone services provider Sprint to an 84.7% share, in addition to managing Yahoo! Japan. In 2018, Softbank announced a plan for a merging of Sprint and T-Mobile, Inc. (TMUS), but it ceded its majority stake in the joined company. In 2015, Softbank purchased IBM’s licensing for its robot "Watson" in order to create their own Japanese Android, called "Pepper." Softbank announced the robot could read human emotions. The first 1,000 units of Pepper robots sold out in November 2015.

Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom AG services more than 184 million mobile customers with a presence in over 50 countries and 211,000 employees. The German company reported its revenue at €80.5 billion in 2019, with 66% of its revenue generated outside of Germany. Outside of Germany, the company operates under the T-Mobile brand. In 2015, the company launched a standardized European network, implementing a cross-border infrastructure development in three of 10 countries. In 2013, Telekom became the first telecommunications company to present a smartphone with the Firefox OS.

Telefónica

Telefónica S.A. (TEF) is a Spanish company. While its customer base is mostly concentrated in Latin America, it also does business in Europe and it has a presence in 17 countries. The company has 272 million mobile customers, 11 million fiber and cable customers, and more than 8 million television customers. Telefónica’s market capitalization is $31.52 billion, as of March 4, 2020. Telefónica offers cloud computing, mobility services, data centers, enterprise voice, and security services.

Telefónica markets its three primary brands with different target audiences: Movistar serves Spain and Latin America; O2 serves the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain; and VIVO serves Brazil. Over the past two years, Telefónica has focused on investment as a means of expanding the business. The company also runs several smaller specialist brands, including Wayra, a startup accelerator. 

América Móvil

Mexican company América Móvil S.A.B De C.V (AMOV) provides services in 25 countries across North America, Europe, and Latin America. The company has 362 million access lines, including 279 million wireless subscribers and 83 million fixed revenue-generating units, which includes fixed lines, broadband accesses, and PayTV. América Móvil has a market capitalization of $57.07 billion, as of March 4, 2020. In June 2018, América Móvil announced its plans to expand with a U.S.-based subsidiary, Claro Enterprise Solutions, LLC. The company's new subsidiary will focus on enterprise solutions for businesses ranging from small companies to large multinational corporations.

China Telecom

China Telecom is a Chinese state-owned telecommunications company based in the capital of Beijing. It is the largest fixed-line service and the third largest mobile telecommunication provider in China. The company has 336 million mobile subscribers, 152.69 million wireline broadband customers, and 110.77 million access lines in service, as of January 2020. The company’s market capitalization is $31.17 billion, as of March 4, 2020.

China Telecom's holding company, China Telecom Corporation Limited (CHA), experienced an initial public offering (IPO) in 2002 in both Hong Kong and New York City. China Telecom’s second holding company, China Communications Services Corporation Limited, launched its IPO in Hong Kong IPO in 2006. China Telecom’s commercial brands include E-surfing, E-surfing Navigator, My e Home, and E-surfing Flying Young. In 2019, the company partnered with a Phillipino company, Udenna Corporation, to create Dito Telecommunity, which is launching in 2020 for the Philippine market.