2degrees could now have 400,000 connections

Mobile connections/market share by connection
Vodafone: 2,479,000* 49.09%
Telecom: 2,171,000** 42.99%
2degrees: 400,000*** 7.92%

* Vodafone PLC annual report, June 30, 2010.
** Telecom annual report, June 30, 2010
*** NBR estimate

2degrees porting updates

(Based on figures from the Telecommunications Carriers Forum, an industry association that includes Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees.)

Sept 2: 100,000
July 31: 92,000 
July 20: 83,000
June 4: 75,000
Feb 26: 53,000

Nearly half a year on from its February 26 big reveal, at which it said it has gained 206,000 active customers* or roughly 4.5% of the market in its first six months, smashing analysts' expectations, 2degrees is still shy of giving an update.

And none was forthcoming at its 3G service launch earlier today.

The telco did provide an update of sorts today, however.

The number of people who have "ported" (moved) a Telecom, Vodafone or other mobile number to 2degrees since its August 2009 launch has grown to 100,000 as of August 28 this year.

A certain ratio
At the time of February update, at which it claimed 206,000 active customers, 53,000 of them were ports from Telecom or (mostly) Vodafone. 

If that porting ratio has held, then 2degrees could now have around 400,000 active customers.

That's a big "if". In part because of the mobile newcomer's own marketing efforts, more people are today aware of the option to take their existing number to a new network.

However, customer loses recently sustained by Telecom and Vodafone indicate that a lot of customers have been on the move.

The situation is coloured by the fact that many people now have more than one device that takes a SIM card, or more than one phone - leading the total number of connections to exceed to the total population, according to a Commerce Commission estimate.

2 Degrees further muddied the waters today by releasing a dual SIM card phone, which will make it easier to hop between networks).

State of the telcos
Vodafone's UK parent recently announced that its NZ subsidiary suffered a net loss of 25,000 customers during its quarter to June 30 (See table top of story; Vodafone's numbers exclude its mobile virtual network partners, easily the largest of which is TelstraClear with around 30,000 customers; others include CallPlus on around 5000 and Compass on around 1000).

Telecom had it worse during the same period, with ongoing XT fallout seeing a net loss of 119,000 (95,000 pre-pay connections and 24,000 on contract), despite the number on its new network growing to 712,000.

More pain could be on the way for the big two.

2degrees' new 3G network, launched last month, will boost its appeal to higher end customers.

And the telco has yet to launch its promised one-month contracts, or open its chain of retail stores.

Beating expectations
If 2degrees has got something like 400,000 connections, or close to 8% of the market, it will be handily beating analysts' expectations.

Before the company launched equity analysts had expected the company to gain around 100,000 connections in its first year (around 2% of the market), with it being difficult to crack the 5% ceiling long term (based on mobile start-ups' experiences in other mature markets).

* Active defined as customers who had paid for a call in the past 30 days.

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