The world’s top 10 telecommunications companies each have a market value of more than $50 billion. The telecommunications industry is forecast to continue to expand operations on a global level, servicing the world’s ever-growing telephone and wireless connection needs. 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.

$50 billion

The market value of the world's top 10 telecommunications companies.

While several company attributes can distinguish the Big Ten, market value serves as the determining factor for this list. The value and performance of these companies will likely change over time. To invest in any of the following stocks, you would need a broker account from one of the many online brokers.

1) China Mobile Ltd.

China Mobile Ltd. (CHL), the leading provider (by the number of subscribers) of telecommunications services in China – with more than 925 million customers at the start of 2019 – is the top telecommunications company in the world. Its market value was $217.5 billion in February 2019, and between 2016 and 2017 its customer base grew by 4.5%. 

2) Verizon Communications Inc.

Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) is the largest telecommunications company in the United States. Its market value was estimated at $221.39 billion as of February 2019. Its sales weighed in at $131.8 billion in 2017. 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 more than 150 countries.

3) AT&T Inc.

AT&T Inc. (T) is the second-largest telecommunications company in the United States, with a market value of $211.688 billion in February 2019. 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. 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. In 2006, AT&T acquired BellSouth. It 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.

4) Vodafone Group Plc

Vodafone Group Plc’s (VOD) headquarters are in the United Kingdom, and the company was servicing more than 500 million mobile customers in 2018. Vodafone’s market value was $48.39 billion as of February 2019. 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. As of the start of 2019, Vodafone was the most valuable brand in the United Kingdom and hosted mobile operations in 26 countries.

5) Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp.

Founded in Japan where fast Internet connections are plentiful, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (NTT) had a market value of $81.564 billion as of February 2019. Japan highly values fiber connections, 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 was $98.785 billion in February 2019. In early 2019, Softbank further expanded its holdings in U.S. phone services provider Sprint, to an 84.7% share, 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 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.

7) Deutsche Telekom AG

Deutsche Telekom AG services more than 160 million mobile customers with a presence in over 50 countries and 216,000 employees. The German company had a market value of $67.334 billion in early 2019, with two-thirds of its revenue 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. (TEF) originates from Spain. It had a presence in 24 countries in 2018 with its customer base mostly concentrated in Latin America. Telefonica’s market value was $43.01 billion in early 2019, 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, Germany, and Spain; 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 América Móvil (AMOV) served 363.5 million access lines, including 280.6 million mobile subscribers worldwide in 2017. Total coverage of América Móvil’s mobile, fixed lines, broadband and television services is expansive. It had a market value of $52.505 billion in early 2019; 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.

In 2018, Mexican regulators approved America Movil's plan to legally separate its Telmex fixed-line infrastructures division from its cellular division. 

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, as of December 2018, its mobile services reached 303 million customers, and broadband reached more than 145 million. The company’s market value was $42.558 billion in 2019. The company headquarters are located in Beijing. Holding company China Telecom Corporation Limited (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, My e Home, and E-surfing Flying Young.