Sector Watch Telecoms

Our series analysing the HR challenges looks at the telecoms industry and
the impact of rapid change, new technology and the need to cut costs

Industry audit

The UK telecoms market is split into two sectors: fixed line and mobile

Fixed line

As the fixed-line market has been opened up to greater competition, volumes
for individual operators have been squeezed. According to industry watchdog
Oftel, at the end of last year there were 320,000 cable, modem and DSL (fast
internet connection subscribers).

BT has a turnover of £18.45bn and holds 69 per cent of overall fixed line
retail revenues in the UK, with 45 per cent of the international calls market
and 88 per cent of the line rental market.

Other key players include:

– Cable & Wireless (turnover £5.9bn)

– Kingston Communications (turnover £316.3m)

– ntl (turnover £2.5bn)

– Telewest (turnover £1.32bn)

Colt Telecom (turnover £901.9m)


In the mobiles market, at the end of 2001 there were 45 million mobile phone
subscribers, 69 per cent of whom bought pre-pay packages, with growth running
at 12 per cent – down (how much?) on the year before.

Market leaders are:

– Orange (part of France Telecom, turnover  15.09bn euros (£9.79bn))

– Nokia (turnover £31.2bn)

– One to One (part of T-Mobile, turnover 48.3bn euros (£31.3bn))

– BT Cellnet (part of mmO2, turnover £4.28bn)

– Vodafone (turnover £22.85bn)

– Number of people employed worldwide: more than 1.3 million (source:

– Average industry staff turnover: 7 to 12 per cent.

HR positives: A fast-moving industry, access to some of the best HR
technology around, an ability to make a real difference to a business, and the
challenge of managing an industry in flux

HR negatives: An increasingly global business means a lot of travel,
dealing with overseas staff and time differences and the pressure of managing
change in a severe downturn

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