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5G Takes Spotlight as US Titan AT&T Defends Title of World’s Most Valuable Telecoms Brand

25 February 2019
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· AT&T maintains position at top as world’s most valuable telecoms brand, with brand value of US$87.0 billion

· European telcos rise through ranks: Vodafone up from 10th place last year to 7th this year, brand value of US$21.3bn

· Deutsche Telekom leading charge for European telcos, brand value up 15% to US$46.2bn

· Thailand’s AIS is world’s strongest telecoms brand, with brand strength index (BSI) score of 90 out of 100

View the Brand Finance Telecoms 300 2019 report here

AT&T maintains position at top
Major US telco AT&T has retained its title as the world’s most valuable telecoms brand, for the third year in a row despite a modest 6% brand value increase over past 12 months. The operator is ahead of the pack of its US competitors, with a brand value of US$87.0bn and a huge focus on investment in LTE and U-verse network. Having closed down its 2G infrastructure, the brand has reassigned focus on LTE with a huge US$14bn investment. AT&T has also partnered with vendors to trial 5G technologies and services in an effort to branch out their commercial services offering into the year ahead. US rival Verizon holds on to second place with a brand value of US$71.1bn whilst China Mobile retains its third rank since last year, with brand value up 5% to US$55.6bn.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Without a shadow of doubt, 5G has taken the spotlight. The next generation wireless air-interface technology is expected to steal the show for carriers and equipment vendors by delivering a heightened network capacity and offering a boost to performance and download speeds. AT&T are certainly leading the charge here and stand to benefit greatly from 5G growth with as many as 1.3bn subscribers expected to be using 5G by 2023. Declines in revenue from voice services are being made up for by high usage of mobile data, so it is a no brainer for telco brands to be focused on upgrading their networks based on LTE technologies.”

European telcos rise through ranks
90 European telcos make it into the Brand Finance Telecoms 300, with impressive performances from Deutsche Telekom leading the charge (brand value up 15% to US$46.3bn), Vodafone (up 14% to US$21.3bn) and Orange (down 5% to US$21.0bn) who all make it to the top 10. Deutsche Telekom increased its brand value once again this year and defends its title as Europe’s most valuable telco brand.

The German telco titan’s success is mostly down to its continued innovation across its European and US IoT service offering. The brand has built a reputable track record in IoT technology innovation as well as through strengthening its strategic partnerships through its eco-system alliances with world leaders in IoT chipsets, modules and digital security. Deutsche Telekom has rolled out NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) across nine countries in Europe as well as in the US. It will also be interesting to see the response later this year when LTE-M is introduced in several of Deutsche Telekom’s European markets. Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US, which is shortly merging with Sprint is a good example — Deutsche Telekom is banking on the American market, along with its home market of Germany for growth.

Vodafone making headway
UK’s Vodafone is up from 10th place last year to 7th place in the Brand Finance Telecoms 300 2019 ranking, with a brand value of US$21.3bn. Its new ‘future optimism’ brand positioning, based on new technologies and digital services, together with a simpler visual identity, have played a part. New communications campaigns have contributed to the success of Vodafone’s continuing move from mobile-only to a more converged quad-play offering.

A large part of this increase in brand value is expectation of future growth in Europe, mostly through its acquisition of Liberty Global’s European assets, which will accelerate the converged communications strategy through in-market consolidation in Germany, its largest market. The long-term outlook is positive, as Vodafone’s strong global brand will support the ongoing transformation of the business and further underpin its long-term commercial performance.

Orange remains top 10 telcos brand
Defending 8th place this year, French brand Orange is down 5% with a brand value of US$21.0bn. In spite of the competitive context which the brand operates within, Orange has increased its mobile contract base by 82,000 customers and its fibre base by 157,000 customers in its home market France.

Across Europe as a whole, the brand recorded progress courtesy of its project with Orange Poland and the development of its “Orange One” strategy that led to a return to growth. Orange Spain’s broadband sales and TV subscriptions performance is impressive and largely due to its investments in fibre. Orange has been credited as a consistent and reliable mobile internet provider service, topping the polls to be named France’s best fixed broadband provider, a testament to its improved performance in broadband speeds.

The Orange group fended off the most aggressive promotions in the telcos market in France, where its rivals Altice Europe, down 18% to US$1.5bn, and Bouygues Telecom (up 6% to US$2.8bn) are all clamouring for more market share in the broadband market. Nevertheless, Orange are up against promotions offered by rival telecoms brands in Spain and in France, where the pricing war has intensified in recent months.

Industry insiders are also anxiously awaiting updates following the announcement that Google and Orange have set a date for 2020 to build a private undersea cable connecting the Atlantic coasts of France and the United States. The cable will be the first new submarine cable between the US and France in 15 years. When it comes online in 2020, it will provide Orange alone with a capacity of “more than 30 terabits per second, per fibre pair”.

Telecoms brands to watch
Gamma, touted as a leading supplier of voice, data and mobile products and services in the UK have seen their brand value shoot up 36% since last year to US$71.0m. The brand specialises in supplying a broad range of communications to business customers, the public sector and not-for-profit organisations. Smaller UK telecoms are not to be ignored, as Gamma has proved itself with reporting double digit growth and strong returns to investors. Gamma is also a market leader in selling communication solutions to small, medium and enterprise-sized customers so is seeing an explosion in the cloud segment.

Euskaltel's Spanish expansion excels
Representing Northern Spain, telco brand Euskaltel has enjoyed a superb 35% growth in brand value last year, mostly due to its penetration and relentless expansion across its Spanish regional customer base. Euskaltel has set its sights on capturing 90,000 new customers over the next 4 years. Euskaltel has plans to enter Leon, Cantabria, Navarra, La Rioja and Catalonia, reaching an additional 1 million homes. There are whispers that Orange has identified the Spanish regional cable operator as a possible take-over target, so this will be closely monitored in the months to come.

Vietnam's Viettel up 36%
Vietnamese telecoms brand Viettel is rising through the ranks making its presence felt in this year’s Brand Finance Telecoms 300 2019 ranking, with a brand value up 36% to US$4.3bn. The state-run telecom provider, which is operated by Vietnam's Ministry of Defence, has seen its overseas market revenues grow by 20% and the number of its subscribers within Vietnam grow by 70%

Etisalat top MENA telecoms brand
Valued at US$8.3bn and with a AAA brand strength rating, Emirati telecoms giant Etisalat remains the most valuable telecoms brand in the MENA region. Etisalat has seen an 8% growth since last year, resulting in it also entering the Top 20 Most Valuable Telecoms Brands in the world this year.

Operating in 15 countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, Etisalat’s success can also be attributed to its customer loyalty programmes via its successful “Smiles” app, as well as strategic sports and events sponsorships. Sports sponsorships provide an international platform through which Etisalat can connect with its loyal customers, sharing and supporting their interests and passions. As the premier digital partner of Dubai’s Expo 2020 showcase, Etisalat is preparing to deliver the event’s visitors and delegates with a cutting edge and immersive digital experience.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance commented:

“Brand Finance welcomes Etisalat to the Top 20 Most Valuable Telecom Brands in the world this year. Etisalat is leading from the front as a strategic enabler of the UAE’s ongoing digital transformation success story. This year’s feat is a nod to efforts in the 5G space, its brand building initiatives and a clear revenue momentum from wider international operations.”

Econet popular across Zimbabwe
Econet Wireless from Zimbabwe has enjoyed 52% growth since last year’s ranking, with its brand value now at US$153m, up from 228th rank last year to 201st place. This success can be attributed to the brand’s constant efforts in creating new avenues for revenue through its broadband and media content ventures. The newly created ventures have made Econet adopt the nascent Telecoms, Media, and Technology (TMT model) business model. Econet has become a popular choice, through its products and promotions such as Buddie bundles and vouchers.

América Móvil making waves across Latin America
In a recent transaction of significance to the Latin American market, Mexican telecommunications services conglomerate, América Móvil, announced the acquisition of operations in Guatemala and El Salvador previously belonging to Spanish operator, Telefónica. With this, América Móvil, parent company of the region’s powerhouse brand Claro, this year ranked 30th with a brand value of US$5.9bn, further consolidates its position as a leading provider, adding nearly 4 million users to its already extensive wireless subscriber base. Should América Móvil rebrand the former Telefónica properties under the Claro umbrella, the brand would almost immediately take the lion share of the Central American market. Though the impact of this measure would likely reflect until the 2020 valuation exercises, it would be a strategic move for the operator in the region, as it is already a dominant force throughout.

AIS named world’s strongest telecoms brand
In addition to calculating overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Along with the level of revenues, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.

According to these criteria, Thailand’s Advanced Info Service (AIS) is now the world’s strongest telecoms brand, a title previously held by China Mobile. With a brand strength index (BSI) score of 90.0 out of 100, the brand continues to benefit from its strategy of diversifying from its telecoms business to focus on fixed broadband. Its fixed-line broadband offering has shown greater stability and lucrative growth prospects as compared to mobile over the past few years. AIS is also the only brand in the industry to post a AAA+ rating.

DiGi wires up as 3rd strongest
Malaysian brand DiGi rises through the ranks of the world’s most valuable telecoms brands. Having upgraded its brand strength rating to AAA this year, DiGi is the third strongest telecoms brand with a BSI score of 87.8 out of 100. With a significant position in the brand's home market of Malaysia, DiGi prides itself on providing its customers with quality digital experiences over a consistent network.

New entry from India’s Reliance Jio
India’s Reliance Jio is a new entrant to the Brand Finance Telecoms 300 table, dialling in at 44th rank with a brand value of US$3.6bn and an impressive AAA brand rating. Reliance Jio do seem to be running the show in India for now but it is worth keeping a close watch on the Vodafone & Idea Cellular merger which will no doubt put up a fight. Reliance Jio is making headway towards becoming India’s number 1 telco provider and it seems likely that the brand will retain its low-price strategy as it continues to grow, gain and retain a reputation across Indian customers.

David Haigh, CEO Brand Finance commented:

“Brand Strength measures the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures, relative to its competitors. In order to determine the strength of a brand, we look at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance.”

Brand Finance Telecoms Infrastructure 10 2019
Alongside the 300 most valuable telecoms operator brands, Brand Finance has ranked the world‘s top 10 most valuable telecoms infrastructure brands in the Brand Finance Telecoms Infrastructure 10 2019 league table.

Huawei way ahead
Chinese brand Huawei once again comes out top in the Brand Finance Telecoms Infrastructure 10 league table, valued at US$62.3bn, up a whopping 64% from last year’s US$38.0bn. Over the years, Huawei has risen through the ranks, carving a name as the biggest telecommunications infrastructure brand in the world, whilst also establishing itself as a leading smartphone manufacturer. It will be interesting to see how the brand navigates its ongoing reputational crises and manoeuvres its way through US security measures in place against them.

Nokia inches its way up
Much-loved Finnish brand Nokia retains its title as the third most valuable telecoms infrastructure brand worldwide, with a 17% brand value increase to US$9.8bn this year. Nokia's remarkable brand story means it still enjoys attention from its nostalgic fans and as a result continues to revamp its handsets and launch exciting new smartphones.

Bryn Anderson, Director, Brand Finance commented:

“Nokia again increases its brand value this year, a testament to the brand's continuing success in reinventing itself - now connecting the world both as a key network equipment provider and through licensing its trusted brand in the consumer technology space.”


Note to Editors
Every year, leading valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the world’s biggest telecoms brands. The 300 most valuable telecoms brands in the world are included in the Brand Finance Telecoms 300 report and the 10 most valuable telecoms infrastructure brands are listed in the Brand Finance Telecoms Infrastructure 10 ranking.

Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market. Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors.

Additional insights, more information about the methodology, as well as definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance Telecoms 300 2019 report.

Brand Finance helped craft the internationally recognized standard on Brand Valuation – ISO 10668, and the recently approved standard on Brand Evaluation – ISO 20671.

Data compiled for the Brand Finance league tables and reports are provided for the benefit of the media and are not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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Brand Finance

About Brand Finance

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.

Headquartered in London, Brand Finance has offices in over 20 countries, offering services on all continents. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance also operates the Global Brand Equity Monitor, conducting original market research annually on over 5,000 brands, surveying more than 150,000 respondents across 38 countries and 31 industry sectors. Combining perceptual data from the Global Brand Equity Monitor with data from its valuation database enables Brand Finance to arm brand leaders with the data and analytics they need to enhance brand and business value.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardization of the brand valuation industry. Brand Finance was the first to be certified by independent auditors as compliant with both ISO 10668 and ISO 20671 and has received the official endorsement of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the United States.

Definition of Brand

Brand is defined as a marketing-related intangible asset including, but not limited to, names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs, intended to identify goods, services, or entities, creating distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefits.

Brand Strength

Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors. Brand Finance evaluates brand strength in a process compliant with ISO 20671, looking at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. The data used is derived from Brand Finance’s proprietary market research programme and from publicly available sources.

Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding Brand Rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach

Brand Finance calculates the values of brands in its rankings using the Royalty Relief approach – a brand valuation method compliant with the industry standards set in ISO 10668. It involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, to arrive at a ‘brand value’ understood as a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

The steps in this process are as follows:

1 Calculate brand strength using a balanced scorecard of metrics assessing Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and Business Performance. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.

2 Determine royalty range for each industry, reflecting the importance of brand to purchasing decisions. In luxury, the maximum percentage is high, while in extractive industry, where goods are often commoditised, it is lower. This is done by reviewing comparable licensing agreements sourced from Brand Finance’s extensive database.

3 Calculate royalty rate. The BSI score is applied to the royalty range to arrive at a royalty rate. For example, if the royalty range in a sector is 0-5% and a brand has a BSI score of 80 out of 100, then an appropriate royalty rate for the use of this brand in the given sector will be 4%.

4 Determine brand-specific revenues by estimating a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to a brand.

5 Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.

6 Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.

7 Discount post-tax brand revenues to a net present value which equals the brand value.


Brand Finance has produced this study with an independent and unbiased analysis. The values derived and opinions presented in this study are based on publicly available information and certain assumptions that Brand Finance used where such data was deficient or unclear. Brand Finance accepts no responsibility and will not be liable in the event that the publicly available information relied upon is subsequently found to be inaccurate. The opinions and financial analysis expressed in the study are not to be construed as providing investment or business advice. Brand Finance does not intend the study to be relied upon for any reason and excludes all liability to any body, government, or organisation.

The data presented in this study form part of Brand Finance's proprietary database, are provided for the benefit of the media, and are not to be used in part or in full for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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