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June 20, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 1:26pm

Revealed: the world’s biggest telecoms companies

A rundown of the industry’s giants.

By Vinod

Thanks to the ubiquitousness of mobile devices, the telecoms industry has exploded to become one of the most valuable markets in the world. Communicating easily and reliably has become a crucial part of how we work and live, so providing these services is more important than ever before. But who are the biggest players in the space?

10. Orange S.A.

Best known in the UK for being half of EE, French company Orange, formerly France Telecom, has around 230m customers worldwide, with operations in Europe, Asia, North American and South America. Founded in 1988 following a spin-off from the French government’s nationalised service, the company is headquartered in Paris and employs 170,000 workers, the majority of whom are in France. It recorded $55.9bn in revenues last year.

9. América Móvil

As a venture of the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim (his son Patrick is Chairman), it’s no surprise that América Móvil dominates much of the Latin American, Caribbean and South American markets, particularly in Mexico, where its subsidiary Telcel is the largest operator. The company provides services to 246 million mobile subscribers in 18 countries, and last year gained $58.9bn in revenues.

8. Comcast

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The much-maligned Comcast may cause headaches for its American customers, but despite this ire, it remains one of the largest operators in the world. Formed in 1963, the owner of NBC is the third largest home telecoms company in the US, to go alongside its profitable cable and ISP business arms. Recording $64.7bn in revenues last year, the company currently employs 136,000 employees.

7. Vodafone

The only British entry on this list, Newbury-based Vodafone owns and operates networks in 21 countries and has partner networks in over 40 additional markets through its Vodafone Global Enterprise arm. It recorded revenues of $70.2bn last year, and employs 91,000 workers worldwide.

6. Deutsche Telekom

Known to UK customers as being the other half of EE through its T-Mobile arm, Deutsche Telekom also has operations in North America, Asia, Africa and South America. Based in Bonn, Germany, the company employs over 235,000 workers s worldwide, and is partly owned by the German government.

5. Telefónica

The largest European-based telecoms company, Spanish provider Telefónica recorded revenues of $80.1bn in 2013. Like América Móvil, it also enjoys great success in South and Latin America through its Movistar brand, which is the largest operator in Chile, Venezuela and Brazil among others. It also operates the O2 network in the UK, which is the country’s second-largest mobile telecoms provider.

4. China Mobile

China’s largest telecoms company has seen incredible success in the past few years, mainly due to the immense growth of its mobile arm. The state-owned organisation recorded revenues of $96.9bn in 2013, and employs 181,000 people across the country. It has also expanded operations into Hong Kong and Pakistan through its Peoples and Zong brands respectively, and has enjoyed particular success in rural markets.


3. Verizon

New York-based Verizon recorded $120.5bn in revenues during 2013, pushing into the world’s top three biggest telecoms companies. Formed in 1983 and previously known as Bell Atlantic before becoming Verizon Communications in 2000, the company has grown steadily over the past few decades to become a dominant presence in the fixed-line, mobile and broadband markets.

2. AT&T

North America’s largest telecoms provider recorded $128.7bn in revenues last year, meaning it narrowly missed out on top spot here. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, the company employs over 246,000 workers, and also holds considerable interests in the broadband and mobile markets.

1. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT)

Although an unfamiliar name to many in the West, the Japanese Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) is the largest telecoms company in the world in terms of revenue, recording $128.9bn in 2013. Partly owned by the Japanese government and employing nearly 220,000 workers, NTT provides services all over Japan, owning a near monopoly of the FTTC and FTTP infrastructure in the country.


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