Deciphering the Decline in Spanish Mobile Accounts
By KEVIN J. O'BRIEN December 23, 2012
BERLIN - It would take the unimaginable - a major power outage, a natural disaster or a sudden, permanent loss of income - for many people to abandon their mobile phones.
That is what appears to be happening in Spain in the midst of its economic crisis. But in the country's telecom sector, as in a Salvador Dali painting, there may be more than meets the eye.
The Spanish regulator, Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones, said last week that 486,183 mobile phone accounts were deactivated by Spanish operators in October alone, the ninth straight month of contraction that has seen two million prepaid accounts, or 9.4 percent of the current total, taken off networks since February.
The biggest reason for the industry's difficulties is the most obvious: Spain's economic slowdown, highlighted by its 26.2 percent unemployment rate in October, including a jobless rate of nearly 50 percent among cellphone-conscious young consumers.