Cover of publication

Succeeding as a telecom challenger

Portrait of Kushal Shah
Senior Partner
Dubai Office, Middle East
+971 4 364-5300
June 1, 2015

Adapting for success

Expanding into new markets is a part of almost any business plan, and with its gradual penetration of developing markets, the telecom industry has been no exception. Today, however, few markets are truly “new”—most expansion is into competitive environments with multiple established competitors. Challengers attempting to enter markets with established players have no guarantee of success, and indeed many fail to secure a large enough subscriber base to ensure long-term success. While there is no one-size-fits-all success strategy, our exclusive survey has identified several focus areas the strongest challengers all share: cost-efficiency, differentiation of service, and ensuring favorable regulatory frameworks.

To achieve a leaner cost structure and become more efficient—and therefore able to offer less expensive services for consumers—challenger telecoms have made use of network sharing, streamlining staff and overhead costs, and improving HR policies to get the most out of each employee. The ability to offer comparable services at below-market prices has been key to the success of many challenger telecoms.

Challengers have also had success in differentiating their product vis-à-vis their competitors by offering novel product combinations and emphasizing key service areas like major cities. Similarly, some challengers have focused on rapid adoption of new technologies where established players may lag; in the past, integration of data and online distribution services were areas where challengers were able to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Encourage competition

The ability to encourage a favorable regulatory environment depends greatly on the challenger and the regulators in question, but in many markets, regulators work actively to encourage competition in the telecom industry. Challengers unable to adapt the regulatory environment may face difficulties in undercutting incumbents’ prices, a key strategy for challengers. Our report emphasizes the need for challengers to continually reevaluate and revise strategy to respond to new market situations. In effect, they must not only challenge incumbents, but also continually challenge themselves.


Succeeding as a telecom challenger


Telecom challengers must not only challenge the incumbents, but also continually challenge themselves

Published June 2015. Available in