The international boom in telecommunications is only set to continue. Investor focus is naturally pulled into the markets where new customers are signing up in great numbers. Look at year-to-date increases in the value of the shares of a few players:
China Mobile (CHL, 97%)
Brasil Telecom, (BRP, 77%)
America Movil (AMX, 45%)
Millicom International (MICC, 40%)
Bharti Airtel (532454, 35%)
Key suppliers including Nokia (NOK, 88%), Broadcom (BRCM, 15%), Apple (AAPL, 85%), and Sony (SNE, 15%) are hardly in a rut for 2007. Check out the firms that own collections of cell towers: American Tower (AMT, 18%), Crown Castle (CCI, 26%) and SBA Communications (SBAC, 30%)*.
People living in more and more remote areas are finally getting reliable phone service from someone other than a state telephone company. Cellular towers are springing up in every imaginable place. As much as I dislike the clutter of the cell tower I do appreciate the benefits of the affordable phone service they provide.
Farmers now make a quick cell phone call to check prices before bringing goods to market, buyers check on suppliers with a quick call from the city, sales people cannot live without it, international and domestic tourists take their cell phone along for the holiday, and finally, the Internet often rides those last few miles on a cell phone network. A trend in Africa, banking solely by cell phone, will merge with smart card technology to bring easy commerce to any geographic location. Any location served by cell phones, that is!
In the U.S. and Europe most people already own at least one cell phone. In the UK people appear to own 4 cell phones (children are carrying some of those handsets). In Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, cell phone usage is spreading to the village level. Though the top players could change, look for the overall trend to continue for many years.
*I am currently researching overseas vendors of cell tower equipment.