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The Affair Between Europe, Mobile Phones Is Ending

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All across the troubled European Union, mobile phone providers are running scared. It seems Europeans are ditching their mobile lines and not getting new ones.

April was a bad month for Spanish mobile phone operators like Vodafone (VOD) and Telefonica (TEF), as they lost approximately 380,000 customers. This is the third month in a row that the Spanish mobile phone user base has declined.

The poor and unemployed of Spain are now finding that austerity plays havoc with a cell phone plan. Even the prepaid market is taking a hit, something which was rather unexpected when subscription plans predictably tapered off.

In the first quarter of 2012, the Dutch mobile market shrunk 2.7%, despite a rising mobile penetration. Vodafone experienced a slight revenue increase, while the company and T-Mobile managed to take some revenue from their main competition Royal KPN NV.

However, there are a few bright and slightly discounted spots on the horizon. Provider T-Mobile decreased its data roaming charges for United Kingdom residents traveling across the EU. The costs of accessing the internet on a smartphone or tablet will be greatly reduced on July 1. A European Union ruling was made to ensure UK residents going on holiday in other countries would not unexpectedly run up a monstrous bill.

In France, the misleadingly named Free Mobile has gained a significant customer base since launching earlier this year. In the short time it’s been operational, Free has brought in 2.6 million new customers. The very cheap mobile provider is now ranked fourth largest in France behind Bouygues Telecom in third, SFR in second, and Orange (FTE) at the number one spot.

Plus, Europe will get the messiah of phones, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5, in a few months. The smartphone is launching in a tough market, but it might be the thing to reinvigorate Europe’s waning mobile love.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.