Financial Damage of Grey-Market Handsets Underestimated by African Mobile Operators, Warns WDSGlobal

February 3, 2009

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 3 /PRNewswire/ –

– ‘Managing the Evolution of Grey Market Handsets in Africa‘ is Free to
Download at http://www.wdsglobal.com/grey-market/

WDSGlobal has published a report that suggests grey-market mobile phone
ownership will present an increasing challenge for African mobile operators
in 2009, despite a global drop in their circulation.

The report states that while reduced import taxes and component costs
have moderated demand for low-cost grey-market handsets across the continent,
African consumers are showing increased demand for high-end feature phones.
Such devices often can’t be accurately identified, supported or configured to
access data services on an operator’s network. This immediately threatens
subscriber profitability concludes WDSGlobal, a global leader in mobile
device management and knowledge and support services for the mobile industry.

“Grey-market handsets are defined as those sold through unofficial and
unauthorized channels,” explains Brett Thomas, Regional General Manager,
Africa, at WDSGlobal. “The demand for high-end feature phones on the grey
market is being fuelled by substantial savings of up to 50 per cent and a
desire to own a handset not available locally. Many are sourced from Europe
and North America and sold through high street retailers, markets and online

The report cites four key areas of concern:

1) Support calls may not be resolved effectively, either because of
internal policy or because the operator does not have the knowledge to
resolve a problem.

2) Grey-market handsets may not be correctly configured for high-margin
data services such as mobile Internet. These handsets are typically limited
to basic voice and messaging services.

3) A parity of service is hard to achieve across the installed base of
subscribers. Grey market handsets may not feature an operator’s branded
firmware or bundled applications.

4) An operator may not detect a grey-market handset attaching to its
network or a subscriber making a handset switch. This can lead to incorrect
CRM data.

Each of these areas can have a negative effect not just on profitability
but also loyalty, suggesting that mobile operators need to build strategies
and implement processes that allow them to cost effectively manage
grey-market handsets on their network.

The way in which consumers acquire and share handsets is changing and
mobile operators must decide where their support for the end-user finishes,
the report warns. The grey-market for mobile phones is prevalent across
Africa and many parts of Asia. In some countries up to a quarter of all
mobile users own grey-market handsets. Many handsets enter the grey market
from overseas recycling schemes or distributors looking to offload unsold

Download the report for free at http://www.wdsglobal.com/grey-market/

About WDSGlobal

Since 1995, WDSGlobal has been dedicated to helping mobile operators,
handset manufacturers and service providers deliver more profitable products
and services to end-users. The company is based in the UK, with offices in
the United States, South Africa, Singapore and Australia.



Source: newswire

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